It’s been said that millennials are different from the older generations, because they aren’t as into material possessions.
Apparently, the generation of young adults, largely born between 1981 and 1996, don’t collect things, don’t want an expansive, lush yard or large house. They don’t want the formal dining rooms like their parents have and don’t want the formal china passed down from the grandparents.
When it comes to home buying, approximately 36% of homebuyers are millennials, according to Forbes. But compared to the generations before them, they waited a lot longer to buy homes - possibly because, in an economy where wages are stagnant, it’s more difficult to pay down debt and save for a down payment than it used to be.
And when the millennials do buy homes, they are looking for houses with open floor plans; they are turned away by carpet and prefer hardwood; and they want minimal upkeep, from the size of the home to the size of the yard, according to Realtor.com.
Born in 1981, I consider myself a millennial, albeit just barely. I’m part of the awkward micro-generation born in the 1980s that still remembers what it was like to grow up largely without the internet or cellphones. Apparently, we are the last.
But does that mean we have different priorities when it comes to our younger cohorts? As the millennial generation is transitioning from young adulthood into marriage and parenthood, will the generation become more like those before us?
Maybe we already are. Or maybe, it’s just a personal preference.
When I think of some of my happiest memories as a kid, many of them are of sitting around the dining room table at my grandparents’ house. We’d have big family lunches on Sundays, and my sister and I were always responsible for setting the table. It was around that table where we had dinner when relatives came into town, where we celebrated holidays and birthdays. When my husband and I announced that we were engaged, it seemed fitting that it was around that dining room table. There was nothing I loved more than sitting at the table after the meal was finished listening to family members talk as the adults finished their coffee.
It makes me wish that I had more occasions to have dinners like that.
When searching for our first home 13 years ago, I knew what I didn’t want. Always attracted to older homes, I did not want an open concept space. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice in my head saying, “You don’t want to see the dishes in the kitchen sink from the front door.” And I knew I wanted a formal dining room, where I’d display the china and crystal that has been passed down from my great-grandmothers to my grandmothers to me.
No, I’m not your usual millennial.
When I imagined myself as an adult and as a mother, I dreamed that I’d one day have a home where my family could gather around the dining room table and we’d eat regularly, the way my grandparents always did.
It was one of the reasons, two years ago, my husband and I started serving dinner most nights at the dining room table. We don’t have an eat-in kitchen, so it was the only option. I don’t really use tablecloths or cloth napkins like my grandmother did. Setting a table generally means fixing the plates in the kitchen and placing them on the table rather than passing around dishes, family style, the way we did when I was a kid. And more often than not, rather than having a salad, main course and a dessert, our meals are a lot simpler than the ones my grandmother made from scratch. And instead of the family china, my kids eat off plastic kiddie plates from IKEA.
But the important thing is that we are sitting around the dining room table together. If that is unlike most millennials, I guess I’m perfectly OK with that.
Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.