In this day and age children expect everything. Kids take and take, and parents reinforce this by buying for them. Can you imagine a child selling their own holiday gift to get one for their parent?
I was sitting in the living room having lunch this afternoon, and my mother-in-law was watching a 1940’s version of Little Women. In one scene the girls, who each got a whole dollar for Christmas, returned the gifts they had gotten for themselves in order to buy gifts for their mother. It was, of course, a touching scene showing the love that these girls had for their mother, and depicting their selflessness. Could you imagine that happening today?
I have seen it happen again and again over the years of my life, parents spending their last dime to buy their children the latest new thing that they want for Christmas. It’s not even about giving a gift out of love anymore, it’s often because the child is demanding and expects to be able to keep up with the other kids. These children give no thought to the sacrifices the parents might have to make to afford these items, they just want them and expect that they will be given.
I can’t even begin to imagine a child looking at the gifts they had received, seeing the fact that there parent has little or nothing, and giving up those gifts to get something for the parent. Most children in this day and age don’t even think about their parents that way. We have bred a generation of greedy, selfish kids that give little or no thought to others.
I also noted the excitement of the girls in the movie over receiving a single dollar each. Obviously a dollar isn’t worth what it used to be, but it’s the underlying idea that gets to me. If you give a kid today a $20 bill, they’ll look at you like you’re a cheapskate. Few children truly understand the value of money, or conceive of all that they could do with even a small amount, if they put some thought into it.
When I was younger I received very few gifts at the holidays, and many of them were functional because we were so poor. When I got a cash gift from a relative, I made the most of it. Even today, one of my family members gives me $25 at Christmas, and I have found that I can get a lot for that amount if I shop wisely. Instead of getting one gift, I can still now, as I did when I was a kid, get a whole lot of little things and feel like I received a lot from that person.
As much as I despise some people’s desire to “go back to the way things were”, I do think that it wouldn’t hurt to resurrect some of the values people once had. Children used to have a greater respect for money, they understood the concept of sacrifice, and knew about the honor of self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to bring some of those ideas back and implement them in modern society.