by: Jeremy Balkin

It seems like times are always changing. But sometimes, things stay consistent. Jeremy Balkin looks at the bigger picture of intergenerational connections and celebrates the essence of Intergenerational Day.

I woke up this morning and checked my tablet. I took a big yawn, a big stretch, and I walked over to relieve myself and freshen up a bit. I poured myself a beverage and walked over to check on my son. I could hear the rain outside hitting my home, and while it was soothing, I knew it was also going to be a detriment for me going out to work.

I went to get breakfast but realized I was out of almost everything. No meat. No water. No nuts. No flowers. Also, somebody left our home open last night, leaving it completely exposed to break-ins and inclement weather. Luckily, the dog didn’t escape. She looked especially good this morning, resembling the picture on the wall more than she had in years.

An Ageless Routine

The above paragraphs could describe the morning routine of someone today or that of a prehistoric person. Except for the part about the flowers. Not a lot of people eat flowers anymore. At least as far as I am aware. That part was probably a giveaway.

Regardless, humanity has come a very long way since prehistory. But in some very basic ways, we haven’t. The basic principles that guide our lives are often largely unchanged. We seek protection, food, and shelter; we look out for the ones we love; and we try to enjoy ourselves as much as we can. Though how we do all of these things has evolved, and we have physically, psychologically, and emotionally evolved as well, there is a through-line throughout all of history of shared experience.

My great grandmother used to talk to me about how, in the evenings, her family would gather around the radio for their entertainment. I remember thinking how ridiculous that sounded. Now, I realize I do the exact same thing with my son while driving him to school. We listen to a morning show on the radio. It includes news breaks, comedy sketches, celebrity gossip, music, and commercials. I also gather around the radio every evening, if only by ‘gather’ I mean ‘lay in bed’ and ‘around the radio’ I actually mean ‘and listen to my podcast on my phone’.

Intergenerational Day

In 2009, Intergenerational Day was created. The basic idea was to decrease the increasing emotional gap between older and younger people. When researching this topic, I found a stock image of an older man fly fishing with a young boy. I started thinking that if this day had existed when I was a boy, maybe I’d know how to fish now. Then I realized that my dad has never gone fly fishing. He didn’t have to. He was blessed with a Long John Silver’s a block away from our home.

Connecting two generations separated by another generation is difficult, especially in these times of disconnection. I think of myself as a pretty social person, but all day I sit at my desk and send instant messages on my computer to other people in the same room as me. I could just turn my head slightly to the right instead. That’s not a knock on technology or instant messaging, as it makes work much more efficient. It helps us connect with our customers much more quickly. However, it does come with the downside of losing personal connections.

Genetics is helping bridge this disconnection – this gap – between generations. I see it every day working here.

  • A grandson finds out who his genetic grandparents are.
  • A grandmother uses a DNA kit to reconnect with her granddaughter – whether as a holiday gift or a conversation starter.
  • A Big Y-700 tester essentially discovers his paternal origins and ancestry. He co-administers a family reunion with people he’s never met halfway across the globe.
  • My own late great grandfather’s other birth family unites with my family for the first time ever.
  • A former soldier unites with his biological daughter for the first time.
  • A twin finds her identical twin, realizing they both led parallel lives.

My grandma died recently, and two other grandparents died when I was a teen. It is very cliché to regret not spending more time with them, but I very much do. I have one grandparent left, and I look to the founders of this holiday to inspire me to connect more with this great man.

Intergenerational Day was founded partly to help ease anxiety, sadness, depression, and other maladies caused by a loss of connection. With only one grandparent connection left personally and all the words I typed above, I am going to call him after work today.

Jeremy Balkin - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

About the Author

Jeremy Balkin

Customer Service Manager at FamilyTreeDNA

Jeremy Balkin has been active in genetic genealogy for 11+ years and has been writing his whole adult life. Through helping customers daily, helping his team, and continuing to write, he hopes to continue to connect with more people on the subject using his own blend of knowledge and humor.

Working for FamilyTreeDNA itself has shaped the past quarter of his life, and mostly for the better. It has become a part of him, and he hopes to never lose it. In his free time, Jeremy likes to spend time with his nine-year-old son and girlfriend, Gillian.