Horrible holiday trend alert! NBC reports on the breaking news that some high schoolers are bringing dates to Thanksgiving dinner. Is this a new thing? Is it growing? Unclear from the report. But the more pressing question is: Why would teens—who under normal circumstances could not be more embarrassed by their crazy relatives—wish to initiate their dates into their family rituals? NBC spoke with a family psychologist in Maryland who explained this bizarre teenage behavior:
“What he or she is saying is, ‘Does this family have the capacity to demonstrate some elasticity or flexibility as I and my siblings begin to move out in the world, or is this going to be an airless dungeon in which we’re all consigned?”
So on this day that we give thanks for our blessings, some offspring are testing the limits of the airless dungeon that is their family by asking that guy from chemistry to swing by? Or are spreading their wings by rejecting their relatives and being grateful for the presence of other people? People who had nothing to do with changing their diapers or reading The Runaway Bunny to them 245 nights in a row. People who, if the tables were turned, would probably not stand for this.
A few disclaimers: Some kids need a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner, and we should all open up our homes to welcome them. And some tribes just eat insanely early, such that an attached teenager could conceivably squeeze in two festive meals—one with his weird uncles, and one with his girlfriend’s weird uncles. (You probably cannot get enough weird uncles.) There’s nothing wrong with maximizing the amount of celebration/turkey one can cram into one’s Thursday/mouth, so long as one also pays due diligence to Grandma.
But the rest of you high-schoolers need to suck it up and spend Thanksgiving with your family. You may feel drunk on a wondrous new thing called romance, but chances are your relationship isn’t that serious. Meanwhile, your ancestors have set apart one day in the calendar for appreciating what you have—not what you will grope for a few magical moments in a movie theater before she leaves for college. I mean the constants. The stalwarts. The people you will depend on as you grow old. We have Christmas for starry-eyed expectation, for swooning, romantic possibility. We have Easter or Purim for hope. We have Valentine's Day, Sweetest Day, prom, homecoming, and every Friday and Saturday night for dates. Thanksgiving exists to examine and express gratitude for the truest foundations of your life, and to unzip your pants while watching football. Why any teen would wish to have their significant other present for that is beyond me.
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