Friday, December 7, 2012

What wealth cannot buy

I wrote this article in the ‘spirit that is Christmas'.

My wife and I were watching TV today. The program showed a celebrity taking his two daughters shopping in New York. Whatever the children wanted, their father bought. During the commercial, my wife asked, “When you were a child, did you ever wish to be rich?”

Xmas-spiritAfter considering her question for a few minutes, I answered, “Not that I can remember.” I then went on to explain that we never really thought about being lower middleclass. We had food on the table every day, clothes to wear summer and winter, and Christmas was always special because of our family traditions.

We discussed this topic for several minutes. Some of the reasons we came up with for not really considering what it would be like to have wealthy parents were:
  • All of our friends’ parents were similar in regards to occupations and income.
  • Family values and traditions were strong including daily family dinners, discussion times, family celebrations, and spiritual upbringing,
  • Strong friendships (both our parent’s friends and our friends).
  • And, resource sharing among friends.
There were several other things that made life special for each of us and not always ‘wanting’, but we settled in on two that were the most important.

1. Resource sharing made our lives pretty special.
  • A friend had a BB gun, we all were able to use it.
  • When another friend’s parents had a color television, we all spent time at his house watching our favorite programs.
  • Another friend’s parents had a house on a lake and a ski boat. We were always able to spend a little time each summer with them on the lake.
  • Our school (less than a block away) had basketball courts, a large grassed in area (that became our football field), and a baseball backstop and diamond. We had a lot of pickup games at the school.
  • A friend bought a car when he turned 15. We were all able to ride around town and to school by just coming up with a little gas money (usually a quarter because it would buy a gallon of gas). The only issue we ever had was who remembered to call out, “I’ve got shotgun” before anyone else.
  • My dad was part owner of a bus lines and he supplied the neighborhood kids with truck tire inner-tubes.  They were great for sliding down hills in the winter and floating on the lake in the summer.
2. Yet, my wife and I both agreed that family values and traditions were probably the strongest reasons.
  • Sitting down every evening as a family to eat dinner was important.
  • Being able to discuss issues, opportunities and plans always helped.
  • Family and friends getting together for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. always was special.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas with family and friends. These were always the special moments we remembered because these occasions brought great joy.
  • Our church brought us all together at least once a week. It was a moment to share common values and beliefs.
Xmas-hopeWe both agreed that our lives were much simpler because possessions were less important and family, friends, beliefs and traditions were the foundation of what made us happy.

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