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.