This is the holiday when, if we’re lucky, the people we usually see on places like Facebook come to life. The ones we know and love from afar, or nearby, will soon be appearing live. Take a minute now and let your brain buffer the concept.
What will we do? How will we act? It’s trickier today than, say, just 10 years ago. We have become screen people. We mingle electronically. Thanksgiving is our big, forced reboot to reality.
Socializing on screens, if you’ve noticed, has now infiltrated all generations. Grandma is navigating tablets. Great grandpa has a smartphone in his corduroys. Even the Luddites among us peer over the shoulders of others who have Wi-Fi mojo. Family and friends can now appear and disappear at the tap of a finger.
So over the next several days, we will be tested. Can we “like” each other and “comment” properly? Will we be able to resist checking gadgets that turn our complexions to blue-ish tints? Our peeps are about to become walking, talking 3-D selfies. And get this — many of them share the same parents, grandparents or beyond. Not kidding. Some of the humans you’ll see this weekend might even be LinkedIn to your gene pool. Just search Ancestry.com. It’s all there.
True, screens have interfered with Thanksgiving weekend probably since the invention of flat surfaces, from the blockbuster movie theater enticements to the decades-old dreadful television-football cocktails. But today, it’s worse. The old 100-pound Magnavox consoles now fit in our pockets.
Hark, pilgrims of the pixels! I am about to share a way we can sail smoothly to the land of real socializing. But it begins with the most vulnerable: our youth. We must show them the way first.
Enter my smart sister-in-law. She found a brilliant, yet simple, trick to keep the youngest generation away from the screens for many hours in a row. Thanks to her, the cousins, who now range from middle school to middle-20s, spend every Thanksgiving ignoring their electronics. They actually have a blast together. Just like we did in that other century.
You won’t believe it, but here is what the younger ones do: They play Bingo.
That’s right. Bingo.
Of course, it’s not exactly 1955 church basement Centrum Silver bingo. The cousins put their own twists on the game. Maybe they play it “ironically,” the little hipsters. But who cares? This group of Millennials, including my sons, has built a repertoire of inside jokes. While playing, they sometimes speak like Jethro Bodine. Not sure how that started. Other times, they’ll all stand on their chairs. We don’t ask why. All we know is they’re having fun — without the Mario Brothers. Or Yik Yak. Or Snapchat. Or Instagram.
My sister-in-law buys and wraps gag gifts for winners of each round. The prizes are hilarious — from extra-extra-large men’s tighty whities to unusual trinkets to things that make Dumb and Dumberesque sound effects. She also throws in great candy. Again, smart woman.
So, the youngies have old-fashioned fun with no screens. Wait. Wrong. Delete that. Last year, the first-born cousin, our head Jethro and official caller of the numbers, was away for an extended job overseas. No problem. He fulfilled his important role via Skype. He was right there with the others at the head of the table, but on an open laptop. It was a necessary screen we were all thankful for. He’s still away, so the kids will have Skype-Cousin again this year. Go, technology! Wooo! (Sorry.)
One day, I’m sure, this gang will look back on these gatherings and fondly remember the days of B-10, G-17 and enormous Fruit-of-the-Looms.
But I still worry about us grown-ups. Tell you what, if I find a way to peel certain eyes off NFL broadcasts and ESPN phone apps, I’ll be the first to stand on a chair and shout Bingo! That’s if I’m not checking Twitter.
Freelancer Denise Snodell writes every other week.