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Experiencing A Holiday With The Millennials

We had 10 Millennials at our house for Thanksgiving and it was a fascinating lesson in the ways of the new world. My generation was a lot more like their own parents than our 20-somethings are to us, and so it has taken some time to come to understand how they tick.

Of course we all love our kids no matter what they do, and we think they’re all special and brilliant. But I’m going to be perfectly honest here: this generation is a different breed.

Let me give you an example: the first few days of our holiday week, I gave a lot of driving directions: “This is how you get to the store.” They would just stand and nod and smile but I could tell they weren’t really listening, so I’d start all over again. Then it occurred to me a few days in that Millennials have had GPS devices their entire lives; they don’t need directions.

Why didn’t they just say so? Because they are polite. I’ll give them that.

And Millennials milk experiences. Coming of age in a major recession which Obama proclaimed was the “new normal,” they declared they were going to make their time on earth special no matter what. And they do. They find inexpensive ways to enjoy things: they play corn hole a lot, they order inexpensive decorations on Amazon for parties, they find cute outfits at a retail store, and they visit their parents and enjoy being treated. They have a lot of fun. It’s an important priority because they firmly believe in enjoying life no matter what the world throws at them economically, or politically or socially.

But that’s not to say they don’t work hard. The Millennials I know are hard workers but they demand a lot more flexibility from their workplace. They are okay with working but they want time to live, too. And many are willing to have more interesting and unconventional jobs for less money. You see a lot of people in their twenties crafting their own unique lifestyles and staying away from more traditional existences.

It’s true Millennials are a lot more entitled than we were at their age. That’s because they were spoiled by the parents in my generation who had more money and time to bestow upon them than past generations. So even though they were often helpful during the holidays, they also expected a lot from us.

When we’d announce our plans for the day, they’d go online and totally redo the day to their liking. They didn’t mean anything by it. They can find everything the world has to offer within a 10 mile radius of where they’re standing with their smartphones and they assume that because of this, their superior research skills render them better planners. They don’t relish the thought of being dragged around by parents who don’t know the full scope of what’s available.

They’re good with money. They have to be. They make less than past generations and since they eat organic to avoid cancer and spend money on unique experiences and paying back school loans and writing checks for high rents, good money management is an important part of their life.

And despite their love of unique experiences, Millennials are homebodies. I could tell the kids were ready to go home after a few days-back to their apartments and houses in other states, because that’s where they’re most comfortable. I read that compared to the general population, our twenty-something kids stay at home 70 percent more. That’s partly because of Netflix, but it’s also a function of self-care. Downtime is big for them. Plus, they don’t always have money for cocktails, so they’ll enjoy a “night of face masks and journaling and yoga in the living room,” as one article said.

And don’t laugh at the yoga. Our Millennials went to the gym every day they were here. They avoided sugar and drank water as if their lives depended on it. Next year, I’m just buying a case of water and a bag of kale for them. They’d be perfectly fine.

Our Millennials would not engage in any deep discussions. They’ve been trained to avoid uncomfortable confrontations with the Boomer generation who see them as somewhat uninformed about history and less educated than they are. When we tried to engage them about current events, they’d ignore us and look at their phones.

My husband and I sneaked out once to go to the grocery store, and I said, “Don’t talk about the kids. They probably have some kind of technology where they can hear us in the car.”

It was an interesting week. Lovely, yes, but we sometimes felt like we were becoming acquainted with a rare species.

We drove them all to the airport and like millions of parents before us, we waved to them as they made their way to a world that seems stranger all the time.

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