A Christmas Story: I miss the old days

wildcardTimes were much simpler than these. Granted I am only 28, but even in my relative youth I do remember a time when I got everything I wanted for Christmas and it didn’t cost my parents or relatives an arm and a leg.

We wanted no cell phones, video game systems than can cost as much as car repairs, or a set of Legos as expensive as a monthly vehicle payment.

We wanted video games alright, but they cost a third of what the units go for today. And when I asked for a box of cards, it came with THIRTY SIX packs and cost about $40; not a container of 18 packs and a price tag of $75 or even more. Those were simple times for me, and I know there were even more simple times before then for my parents and grandparents when they were growing up.

As my niece (2) and nephews (ages 5 and 10) ripped open their presents Christmas Eve (tradition on my wife’s side of the family) I could not help but notice how ridiculously priced some of the items were. I mean, how can a parent really afford a PSP for their son? The thing costs $200, and that’s just the unit — no games. And we’re talking about a hand-held video game system, one that almost no one will be able to enjoy watching him play. Instead of gathering around the TV to watch him thump character and character, our prospective shows us a kid huddled in a corner, game in hand, and the glow of the tiny screen shining off his face. Then he’ll try to explain — several times — later what he’s been doing.

What makes this situation all the harder to fathom is that the younger nephew’s mother and dad probably won’t be able to provide this same system for their son or daughter, who almost certainly look up to their older cousin. How do parents deal with this? I understand wanting to make your child happy, but surely there is a line, right?

As I myself prepare to become a parent in about a month, I am now realizing how much the world has changed; how much more expensive things are. It makes me appreciate all that my mother was able to provide for my sister and I … on a single income. With age comes wisdom. I get it.

Don’t get me wrong, my sister and I were not perfect children. We wanted what was considered to be the good stuff, too. When I asked for a box of 1992 Wild Card football (36 packs, $42), it was because it was the top of the line at the time. And when my sister wanted a certain jacket that cost like $150, it was not good enough for her that my mom could only afford the $65 one. She was a bratty teen at this point, but realized later it was wrong of her to react the way she did.

As the sun prepares to come up this Christmas morning, there no doubt will be millions of children across the country receiving their fair share of high-priced items. The joy on their faces today will remind me and all adults of simpler times in our lives; times when we also erupted into screams of glee over presents. The difference: Our joy didn’t cost our parents an arm and a leg.

Photo Credit: eBay seller Oakesy25

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