I come from a large family. Gatherings have always involved grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins even people that aren't really related but we claimed them anyway. But, over the last ten years, the numbers of participants has just fallen away. And not just with my family but with many others as well.
Some people attribute it to older family members dying out, family members moving away and not being able to make it home for the holidays. The question that gets me is if that's the explanation or has true family time been taken out of the equation of "family holidays?"
Some of these changes in "family holiday" situations can be attributed to the changes in lifestyles around the country. Divorce, single parent families and children that are raised by their someone other than their parents. The once "traditional" family has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. The values that were once instilled into children are no longer there. That can create a void in the place that was once filled by family traditions and ways.
Stress is another factor that feeds into the lessening of "holiday family time." Between jobs, children in school, and an already hectic home life adding more people and cooking so much food can be increasingly overwhelming to individuals. Also, many people have moved far from their families in pursuit of career opportunities. Some people just aren't "holiday" people. The prospect of Thanksgiving rolling around and then Christmas doesn't excite some. To them it's just a holiday.
The history of Thanksgiving states that the feast was done in celebration of harvest as well as a way to bring people together. In the stories of the first Thanksgiving (of which there are many) feasts were held between the new comers, pilgrims and the natives, the indians. This showed the generosity of both parties and the acceptance of each other's culture.
Family gatherings are a derivative of that acceptance and generosity. However, with the dwindling of "family holidays", will this tradition remain?
Regardless of situation the decrease in "family time" seems to have run concurrent with the increase in crime and degradation of the country. So what will you be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Your family, friends and blessings? Or will you be just another person that excepts Thanksgiving as just another day?