The Transition Generation

Add a holiday here, subtract a holiday there … | February 14, 2012

So as members of Generation T, growing up in America means a lot of different things – some of which we’ve discussed in previous posts – but today, on Valentine’s Day, I’m going to talk about another aspect: holidays.

Now we have a number of lovely holidays in the US (including Valentine’s).  My favorite would have to be Thanksgiving – good food, family, friends, a fall climate, and enjoyment all in one place … it even comes with a annual parade! But immigrants to this country, my parents included, don’t always celebrate these holidays – at least not at first. My own parents didn’t start celebrating Thanksgiving until I was really in college … which is at least 17 years after they moved to this country.

Each country has its own set of holidays and customs, and Gen T-ers tend to celebrate those.  But those holidays and also religious holidays come with their own set of hurdles, as in their “home” country people may have had the day off for these special days, but not necessarily in the US.  Employers are encouraged to allow people an extra day or two in addition to their vacation time for such holidays (though this typically only applies to religious holidays).  But with the economic downturn and other variables in play, most people are forced to take vacation time for these days.  This is where things get tricky.  What if your vacation time is limited to just 2 or less weeks per year, or you don’t accumulate sick time and only have 2 weeks per year for any sick days or vacation days. Or, even worse, you don’t accumulate vacation time because you are a part-time worker, and you lose out on regular pay by missing a day of work.  So a joyous day of celebration suddenly becomes a tough decision to make. And that’s how some of the older customs and traditions are lost … you simply can’t afford to continue them every year.

So as immigrant families adapt to life in the US, they also slowly begin to adapt to new holidays.  A lot of stores are closed on Thanksgiving or other federal holidays, so you begin to adapt celebrations to occur on those days and over those long weekends. Every culture which considers family important also seems to focus on the family meal as a way to connect, so why not use Thanksgiving as a way to get together? And that’s how it starts to happen. And, as you begin to celebrate those days, so do your children who in turn celebrate them with their kids one day. And you pick those one or two special holidays that you just can’t miss, and take them off of work (or hope they fall on a weekend or other day you might be off anyway).

What American holidays have you embraced? Let me know, and let’s keep the discussion going.

Thanks for reading!

-Mehv

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    First generation born and raised American, and member of the Transition Generation © (aka Generation T ©). Join me as I discuss the struggles and joys I have faced as an American. What's your story?

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