Earlier this week, I came across this story in the Wall Street Journal. It’s basically about the requests that mall Santas are recieving this holiday season. It mentions how children are asking these men to give their parents jobs so they don’t lose their house, or glasses so they can see the chalkboard in class, or necessities like socks. In many cases, these Santas are heart-broken after a shift and honestly, my heart was breaking just reading the article.
That night I told M. about it and then we discussed whether these children will grow up with an appreciation of money and hard work that seems to be lacking in the generation before them. (Sorry, I have been asked to mentor too many students who want to start at the top without doing the work to get there and who value stuff a bit too much.) I wondered what kind of impact it will have on our society if materialism was subdued from the levels we’ve seen in the recent past. And here’s what I know.
I know that we don’t save enough in this country and that at one point we were told to be good Americans we should buy, buy, buy. And while that gave our neighbors jobs it also set us up for the fall that we are taking now. I am not sure how much innovation and discovery we were doing while we were trying to keep up with the Joneses. But now that times are tough, I notice that people are becoming creative—whether it is how to earn or stretch or save a dollar. That is what once made the United States a global leader economically. I notice that others are realizing that it isn’t stuff that makes the holidays and I notice people are more friendly because goodwill means (and is needed) more than ever. If these are the things that this generation is growing up with, then this nation could be great again. Because it’s citizens are looking outward again and are not consumed by consuming.
I hate that young children have to feel the burden their parents carry, especially during what should be a joyous time of year. But because of this, they may carry with them traditions and memories that last longer than the short-lived happiness a sought-after toy would have given.