Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reality Check

One of my favorite blogs is EconoWhiner. It is the blog that allows me to whine about the state of our economy without constantly blogging about it here. It is an outlet for angst, if you will. Which brings me to a blog today from a young woman, wife, mother, who recently went through a layoff scare. This scare ended well. Her husband found another job, with a promotion, and all is well. It was as I read her rendition of the chain of events, and their view of it, that lead me to make an observation regarding our children's generation. 

We spent our adult lives making sure their lives always had a happy ending, if we could. Our children have never seen anything like what we are dealing with right now in our world economy. Nor have we, for that matter. But we have been through downturns that were scary. I remember my father not being able to find a job, at different times, in the sixties and seventies and on into the eighties. He worked construction, and it had more than it share of downturns. In fact, many blue-collar jobs are the first to feel the pain. I remember looking for jobs in my early twenties and not being able to land one that paid enough to live. I remember eating only veggies - not because it was cool, or part of my world view, but because it was all I could afford. And I never felt deprived - all my friends were in the same boat. When my husband and I married, we had many many years of living paycheck to paycheck. But we always shielded our children from worry. We made sure their lives were not affected by personal and professional downturns. 

Which brings me back to the Econo-Whiner story. I felt in reading it, that the person writing it saw a happy-ever-after ending. She had cut back spending, acknowledged all the things she already had. Determined to enjoy her time with her husband as he was unemployed, sure it was just a short-term problem. Her husband landed a new job - with a promotion - end of story! They broke out the champagne. But, here's the grab. Her husband is in marketing, which is directly related to buying. America, and the world, is not buying. So yes, he has a job for now, but what about in another six months? Do they really think this thing is over? The Happy-Ever-After syndrome? I think we have raised a generation that is not prepared for long-term struggle and difficulty. We were raised by parents that knew scarcity. They didn't spoil us as much as we have spoiled our children. They certainly would never go into debt to do it, as we have. So what is my point? 

We failed in not preparing our next generation for deprivation. 

Deprivation is not all bad. Economizing is good for the soul. And not every ending is happy. Such is life. But it goes on, even without all the extras. We find joy in the little things, and we appreciate the things we are able to buy even more. I remember lamenting the hand-to-mouth upbringing I had to my father one time, and he responded by saying - "we always ate good, didn't we?" Now I understand what he meant. He didn't always eat well. He was on his own at 13, struggling to make a living in the 1930's. He made sure his children always had enough of the two essential things we needed for survival - food and shelter. And now we need to make sure our children understand the things that are necessary for survival. Food, shelter, and the understanding that life is hard at times. It does not always have the happy-ever-after ending. But it is wonderful, anyway. It is full of joy that has absolutely nothing to do with houses, cars, status, or money. Once the essentials are met - the rest is gravy. 


Reya Mellicker said...

The Seneca wisdom about economy is so perfect. Wow.

I forgot that you live at Tahoe. I used to live on the south side, near the old location of the community college, close to Heavenly. You know ... the part of Tahoe where people leave their old refrigerators out in the yard.

Loved living there, though. What a beautiful place.

You had a lot of snow last year didn't you?

Say hello to that beautiful big blue lake for me, please? And take care, don't worry too much. This, too shall pass.

Lover of Life said...

Thanks for your kind words, Reya. We live in Incline Village, on the North Shore. But I think anywhere here is nice, don't you? We feel very fortunate. I think last year, (we were in Minnesota), had less snow than "normal", but maybe more than this year. It looks to me like maybe several years of below normal. Many of the piers are up out of the water. I will tell "her" you sent greetings. Please send "Keep Tahoe Blue" energy!

Dreamer said...

Going back to a low cost, low stress, quiet and feel good place. I think the wake up call is for us all. Slow down and see the good things around us. A good lesson for our children. I hope all works for the better and our children live a more peaceful life.

Faithful said...

My mom and i were just saying the same thing today, many of the younger generation are in for some economic and material lessons that our parents have already learned and we were already taught. It is our fault for not beng better teachers. Painful to all.. just the same.

Faithful said...

My mom and i were just saying the same thing today, many of the younger generation are in for some economic and material lessons that our parents have already learned and we were already taught. It is our fault for not beng better teachers. Painful to all.. just the same.

California Girl said...

Really thoughtful and I agree with you. I don't think our having to downsize, stop spending stupidly, cut our credit cards or anything else is going to hurt us. I would prefer to go back to when using a credit card was a rarity and you didn't pay for something unless you had the cash in hand. My husband and I left Suthern California twice to get away from the Keep Up With the Jones' mentality and it was the best thing we could have done for our kids. They have grown up without the need to wear labels or drive a hot car or have the latest equipment etc. If nothing else, this economic slump will not scare them as much as other people, including me!

Anonymous said...