I have been thinking about writing this blog for YEARS, even before I blogged.
And I realize that anyone reading this who was born after 1980 or so is going to think that I am a curmudgeon, and it is entirely possible. I am a proud Gen X-er who is approaching fifty-four, grew up in the 70s and 80s and have been adulting for several decades.
When I was in grade school, shoppers could lay away five items of clothing at Hills Department Store for $5 for back-to-school shopping. When you paid off the balance after however many payments it took, you THEN took the clothing home. My parents and honestly no one I knew had a credit card. I am not sure there even were credit cards back then. People paid with cash or by check.
I remember being 5 years old and my gramma Feinstein taking me to the beauty parlor. The beautician had me sit on about five giant Yellow Page books so I could fit under the hairdryer with gramma next to me leafing through a magazine. This nice woman washed, curled and teased my hair and gave me an amazing coif! Because it was raining when we left, gramma put one of those plastic babushkas on my head that you unrolled and tied under your chin so my hair would not wilt. I believe we went to the Maple Restaurant for lunch afterwards.
Gramma also applied bright red lipstick to my lips and taught me how to rub my lips together, kiss a tissue to blot and she painted my tiny fingernails bright red too. Va va va voom!!! To this day, that is one of the best memories of my entire life! I still remember the gold metal container that she twirled in front of me to reveal inches of red loveliness. The smell and taste of the thick waxy paste made me feel grown up. I LOVED it.
Sadly, my gramma died shortly after that. She was only 74 years old. In my twenties, I bought a bottle of Jergen’s lotion and as soon as I opened it, I smelled GRAMMA. That cherry almond scent is like getting a warm hug. I keep a bottle in my purse.
I never got my nails done again till after I graduated from college and had a real job. No one was going to pay for me to have that kind of extravagance.
As soon as I turned sixteen, I worked after school, weekends and all summer and holiday breaks. I paid for anything that I needed beyond necessities, and I bought groceries and paid rent. I walked to school and work and did not get a car till I could buy a used 1981 Buick Skylark for $1900 in 1991. I was 23 years old. Until then, the bus and my 10-speed bike and I were terrific friends.
AS SOON AS I DROVE IT AWAY from the previous owner, the rack and pinion steering went. I had a heck of a time driving it to the mechanic. Larry worked for cash and helped us poor folks. God bless Larry! He was truly a Godsend.
I understand this is a new generation and we are living in a much different world than the one that I grew up experiencing. Each generation presumably wants better for their progeny than they had, and I get that. I do not have children, but if you read in my blogs about Jaya, trust me, I am understanding about giving to youth. I enjoy giving new experiences, items of mine and shopping for Jaya. It brings me great joy.
Jaya really APPRECIATES each and every thing I do for or give to her. She does not expect things from me. Jaya works hard for what she has and goes without if she cannot afford it. She practically asked as a birthday gift for help buying tires for her car rather than wanting an extravagant gift. She LOVES going thrifting with me and we have pulled things off the side of the road to paint and repurpose and use. That “headboard” behind her in the photograph above is one of our terrific finds. Jaya appreciates the value of a dollar and the hard work it takes to make those dollars. I will never have to worry about Jaya living beyond her means.
He also mowed lawns around the neighborhood and at age 11 started working on a tobacco farm doing HARD work. As a child he learned to save up for purchases and learned responsibility. There was also a little money-making scheme that got him into trouble by selling M80s to his classmates. He and one of his buddies, who is a twice retired corporate executive living in Vail Colorado, cooked up this endeavor and have many colorful stories about their youthful exploits to regale. Those boys now all in their early sixties get together annually at their Boy Scout camp (Mitch and several of his pals are Eagle Scouts), pitch tents, do some community service and then relive their childhoods, talk about their lives, share the news of their families, build and tend to a big fire, consume beer and possibly a bit of whiskey. How blessed they are to still have each other and this annual pilgrimage back home.
Am I to understand that today a child can threaten a parent with calling in authorities if they are spanked? My generation of kids were respectful and followed rules or there WERE consequences. Building character is important and learning to follow rules and behave was part of that.
We opened doors for others, respected our elders, was quiet and let adults speak, could entertain ourselves, shared the one telephone and television with the family, ate what mom cooked and we did not earn participation trophies.
We also paid for our college loans. I took ten years to pay mine off of which is an accomplishment that I am still proud.