A multi-generation gathering, at least in my experience, almost always morphs into some kind of show by the children. Last night, at my niece Tasa’s 8th birthday party with family, we were treated to a talent show. Uncle Mike did “aggressive walking”, Chris was the lights man, Xavier created a song on the paino, Pi exhibited nunchuck dexterity, and Aga and Tasa entertained us with magic tricks. The adults in the audience gathered round, happy to suspend their grown-up conversation for some live entertainment.
My kids and their like-aged cousins did shows every time we had a picnic in the meadow in the Adirondacks. In fact, often, the whole week would have a theme of preparing for the show, and they would sneak off to rooms or the edge of the woods to rehearse, keeping it all a big secret until the performance. More often than not, the girls would have prepared some elaborate dance or gymnastics routine, and right in the middle, the boys would come out of nowhere, doing silly antics to steal the show.
And I remember doing the same thing as a child with my siblings and cousins. The parents would be busy with whatever parents are doing–putting a meal out, laughing too loud, sitting around the table when the meal was complete. We, meanwhile, would create our own world, usually resulting in a show–more often plays, I think I remember, but definitely something that had a performance, brought the grown-ups into our world, and pulled everyone together.
I know I did not teach my kids this–it simply emerged. And yet it feels time-honored and wholesome and puts the perfect icing on the cake of a family gathering–togetherness, appreciation for individuality, and hearing the voices of the youngest. I look forward to many many more shows to come.