Saturday 20 December 2014


Last week I read a well written facebook letter about Christmas. The letter talked about showing restraint when buying gifts for your children. Other children, perhaps their classmates may not have parents that are as affluent and can’t afford lots of expensive gifts, so the kids have to settle for a colouring book and some underwear.
I understand the sentiment, but I think the theory is flawed. You can take this to the extreme and say that no kids should get any gifts because there are children who aren’t Christians and they get nothing at all for Christmas. We are always going to have poor people and rich people in our society, and they will spend their money as they see fit. Most people that are wealthy will give to many different charities to help the poor. That doesn’t help the kids of middle class parents who can’t drop $750 on an iPad for each of their three kids. I suppose this is one of those life lessons that you learn fairly early in life.
I think that if those parents could afford the best for their kids, they would give it to them too. I remember when I was a kid, I was jealous of those “rich” kids that got to go away to summer camp every year while I had to stay in the city. I did get to go to my grandmother’s cottage almost every weekend, and I am sure that there are kids that I knew who were envious of that. Those kids that went to summer camp shouldn’t have been kept at home and I should not have been kept from the cottage just because some of my friends didn’t have that option.

Wealth is a relative thing. I have never met anyone who thinks they are rich. Well, my daughter does because she has a definition of rich that encompasses her situation. Most other well off people understand that they aren’t suffering, but they don’t figure they are what you would call rich. My dentist is what I consider rich, but she thinks she is just an average Joe. Probably because she knows people who have much more than she does, and they are rich!
We pride ourselves that we live in an egalitarian country where there are no castes or classes. Well, no obvious ones anyways. Over the years I have watched friends and family fall in love and get married. There isn’t one of them that have married out of the social, economic strata that they were raised in. Well, some grew up poor but they studied hard and became middle class. We stay in our “class” simply because we can’t afford to get out of it for the most part. I didn’t get to grow up with the “camp” kids and they didn’t get to know the kids that summered in Switzerland. That is just the way of the world.

We convince ourselves that those rich people are just greedy bastards who don’t care about anyone but themselves. They give money to the poor and understand that they can’t help everyone. I’ve met some wealthy people (what I consider wealthy) and for the most part they are just nice, normal people who are trying to do their best in the world. I’ve met some poor people who are nice, normal people who are trying to do their best in the world. Yes, there are bastards, but they would be bastards with money or without.

Life can be hard and money doesn’t make anyone happy. Poverty doesn’t either as it turns out. Happy is something that you have, not something you can buy.

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