The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 13, 1996 · Page 68
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 68

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 13, 1996
Page 68
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FAMILY BY MARK MORRISON One vacation, three generations A baby boomer finds new meaning in family by taking a cruise with the kids and the in-laws W HEN MY WIFE'S parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary recently, they quickly dismissed the idea of a fancy shindig. Why fuss? Already retired to Florida for six years, they didn't want to spend money on a blowout for the few family members and old friends who lived nearby. They weren't interested in doing what my grandparents did for their 50th in 1954: a black-tie extravaganza at One Fifth Avenue in New York City. I was 4 or 5 and too young to be invited. But sometimes I'll look at the old black-and-white photo album of Fanny and Ben's golden day, taking in the fleshy smiles of friends and relatives in satiny tuxedos and taffeta gowns. My parents, who were then in their 30s, projected an older air than I do now in my 40s. And my grandparents, whom I never remember as anything but ancient, look as if they never completely left the old country. BUT MY IN-LAWS had a thoroughly modern approach: true family bonding. We live in Los Angeles with our two daughters; my brother-in-law and his family are in Boston. Most of the others who matter are in the New York area. "I don't need to celebrate with people I just met," my mother- in-law said of her new-found Florida friends. Especially when, for the same dough, they could pop for their kids and grandkids — all eight of us — to join them on a glitzy four-day cruise from Miami to Key West and Mexico's Isla de Cozumel. Their friends had planned something similar for their 50th. And the cruise lines not only made sure the price was right, they offered something for everyone: day camps for the kids, gambling and reggae music for us baby boomers, and the Borscht Belt humor of London Lee for the golden-agers in the group. It was an intergenerational affair to remember. If we had a nightmare vision of being trapped at sea with our kids and our parents, our worst fears gave way to a cheery flow of cocktails, late-night entertainment and festive family dinners (the food was even pretty good). We stayed up past midnight for the Italian buffet and the Mexican fiesta and saw more ice sculptures than made sense on a trip to the tropics. RECENTLY, MY FRIEND Mike and his family went with his folks on a cruise to Mexico, and another friend and her kids accompanied her parents to Alaska. In each case, the grandparents paid everyone's way, costing them thousands they could have spent on a big bash. 'If we had a nightmare vision of being trapped at sea with our kids and our parents, our worst fears gave way to late-night entertainment and festive family dinners' But the fact is, times truly have changed. Today's grandparents are a more affluent breed; they may be in their 60s and 70s, but they are younger in spirit, dress and lifestyle. They may not always live longer, but they live more. Chances are, they were born in this country, finished high school (maybe college), danced to the swing music of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, moved to the suburbs and worked continually toward the ultimate promise of the new American Dream: leisure living. They also live for their grandchildren. Their leisure time allows them to actively enjoy their children's children in a way their parents never did, and in a way they couldn't always manage as parents themselves. But while they often retire to carefree Sun Belt communities in Florida or Arizona, their baby boomer kids pursue careers and opportunities in other corners of the country. The only time some families can get together is on holidays and grandkids' birthdays. So given a chance to spend $5,000 on one catered evening with all the incumbent headaches (invitations, R.S.V.P.'s, menus, seating arrangements, music, decorations, thank-you notes, etc.) or a family reunion in some kid-friendly vacation\ land, the choice is simple. Traveling today also is easier than it ever was for older generations. The first time my grandmother set foot on an airplane, she was 90; the first time my daughter flew, she was 6 months. Not only is world travel now more available and more affordable, but the travel industry has created irresistible package deals that cater to any age or budget — whether on a cruise or a Las Vegas vacation. What was once exotic and elite is now more of an everyday event. Such trips provide a rare opportunity for members of the American family to slow down and get reacquainted — before returning to their all-too-busy lives. And best of all, the grandkids get to be invited. C3 Mark Morrison 1$ the West Coast editor of In Style magazine. He last wrote for USA WEEKEND about his parents' divorce. 14 USA WEEKEND • Oct. 11-13, IV96

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