Boomers Talked Turkey at Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, the airwaves, internet and print media are currently filled with advise on keeping civil discussions around the table when families gather for the holiday. Yet few mention that the divide between people, even in the same family, is not new to the present day. Boomers experienced massive divides within their families — though, like every generation, boomers were never a monolith, and experiences varied widely.

In Mister Boomer’s estimation based solely on anecdotal information garnered from other boomers, the Great Divide around the Thanksgiving table in the boomer years could be categorized into two basic camps: anti-Vietnam war sentiment, and the boomer-era culture war based on style.

Holidays in the early years for Mister Boomer were all spent with extended family, meaning dozens of cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Every Sunday, Mister B and his family would have dinner at one grandparent’s’ house or the other, and sometimes at both. So Thanksgiving felt pretty much like any other Sunday. Kids had their table, so the conversation at the adults’ table was not of much interest to young boomers.

By the time Mister Boomer’s older cousins got married and had children of their own, it was the mid-60s. Aunts and uncles peeled off the large gatherings and started their own traditions within their growing families. Still, uncles especially had and voiced their opinions, and having served during World War II, they often came down on the side of a “My country, right or wrong” sentiment. Some cousins might object, voicing concern for putting young Americans at risk in a war with uncertain goals or an unspoken ending plan. This, of course, hit home for them because they were of Draft age.

Other boomers told Mister B the divide in their homes was more of what became described as The Generation Gap. In particular, boomer boys recall relatives asking them the question raised in the song by the Barbarians in 1965: “Are you a boy, or are you a girl?” Long hair was often a bone of contention in many family gatherings.

These sorts of boomer-era culture war arguments were immortalized in the TV show, All in the Family (1971-79) in classic confrontations between Archie Bunker and the man he referred to as his Meathead son-in-law.

Mister Boomer and his siblings spent their school years in parochial schools, so strict rules prevented longer hair, and uniforms were worn throughout the tenure. For Mister B and many of his friends, the summer immediately following high school graduation was the time to grow longer hair, and possibly try to cultivate facial hair. In Mister B’s experience, his part-time job still had regulations on the length and cut of “acceptable” hair. So scuffles within his family on hair length were few.

For boomer girls, the anecdotal reporting on their family divides voiced the concept of how much freedom they were to have compared to their brothers; arguments arose about timing to leave and return to the house, their choice of dates, what they wore, and in some cases, whether they would be allowed to pursue a college education. These disputes could spill over into the Holiday table on occasion.

Boomers varied in their own beliefs, and their family experiences varied widely as well. Yet articles of the day are replete with Generation Gap terminology and most boomers will recount just how different they were than their parents, in thought and deed. The times were certainly changing, and the divide was widening as boomers reached voting age.

Mister Boomer wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving filled with delicious food, family traditions, and avoidance of conflict.

How about your families, boomers? Were Thanksgiving dinners contentious or harmonious?

How Quickly Did Boomers Eat Their Halloween Candy?

Now that another Halloween has passed, parents everywhere are left with the age-old dilemma of how much of the candy their children collected should they allow their kids to eat — and over what span of time. To set the current scene, there are some recent statistics available that can shed some light on the subject:

• A study conducted in 2021 concluded that 80% of kids eat all of their Halloween candy in one week.
• A study conducted in 2019 revealed that 86% of parents admitted to eating candy from their kids’ Halloween haul; the same study stated that nearly 60% of parents hid some of their kids’ Halloween candy in order to control or pace out their consumption of sugar.

In the boomer years, there were no such studies readily accessible. There were annual warnings of cavity-inducing threats from dentists and sugar-poisoning cautions from dietitians and nutritionists, but to boomer kids, such pronouncements sounded like the “wah, wah, wah” of the adult-speak in the Peanuts cartoons and comics. Ergo, Mister Boomer can only relay his own experiences, and the thoroughly unscientific polling he has conducted among his boomer friends. Basically, Mister B’s inquiries echoed the recent studies. Some boomers did fiercely tear through their candy bags in one week, though others took more time. Most boomers did recall that their parents ate some of their candy from their bags. However, this is where the similarities end.

In Mister Boomer’s case, he and his siblings differed in their approaches to post-Halloween candy consumption. Mister B’s parents issued an annual edict that no more than two or three pieces of candy should be eaten in any one day, but that was regarded as more of a guideline than a rule since Mister B and his siblings were in possession of their own bags. Brother Boomer attacked his treasure and if not in one week, certainly within two weeks, his cache would be gone. Mister Boomer and his sister took more time. This grasshopper-and-ant tale led Brother Boomer to very often beg for a morsel from each. Mister Boomer strongly suspected (to this day) that Brother Boomer happily stole from his bag regularly, since Mister B kept a loose inventory of his own supplies.

For Mister Boomer, it was somewhat of a game, trying to see how long he could stretch out eating the candy, with Thanksgiving as the end goal. Most years, Mister B could do that. One recent study Mister B found suggested that the average number of houses “hit” by children on Halloween was 30 … that number seemed mighty low to Mister Boomer. From the ages of 8 to 12, Mister B, like his neighborhood denizens, attempted to cover blocks and blocks of homes — far beyond 30 houses — to reach, in his estimation, more than 100. Each year neighborhood kids aspired to fill pillow cases with candy, though hardly any ever reached much past halfway. Still, it was a considerable collection.

In Mister Boomer’s situation, his parents immediately weighed in to check the booty at the end of the night. At the same time, it was understood by Mister Boomer and his siblings that the “fee” for this bag-check would be some on-the-spot confiscation. Two or three pieces of their favorites were targeted; for his mother, it was Milky Way, and for his father, it was Butterfingers.

Some boomers reported that their parents literally took away some of their candy on Halloween night, allowing them only a certain amount. Others allowed a grace period on Halloween, but portioned out what their children would eat in the days that followed. Mister Boomer and his siblings had full control of their bags, so no appreciable quantity was hidden or taken away, other than the sacrificial tokens required here and there for the duration. In later years, Mister Boomer recalls people bringing in “excess” candy into the workplace. Mister B felt sorry for his co-workers’ children.

How about you, boomers? Did you maintain possession of your Halloween candy? And how long did it take to consume your bag of treats?