A few thoughts on the holidays:
Point 1: It really makes me ill at how much money people spend on their kids this time of year. These parents today are so afraid of their kids not liking them that they will spend way more than they can afford to give the kids everything they demand.
Growing up, my parents were not about to spend all that much on us, and we didn’t dare demand high priced items. I was allowed to give my parents a list of about dozen moderately-priced items I was interested in and then they’d by me 4 or 5 of them and I’d be happy and surprised when I opened the presents. I appreciate that I didn’t get everything I demanded because I think in the long run it made me a better person. More importantly, if you get everything you want or demand, and you don’t have to work to earn it, it devalues everything. The quickest way to teach your kids to grow up to be productive citizens is to teach them that if they want the nicer stuff, they have to WORK for it. The reason so many young people today are such slackers is that they were spoiled brats who never learned the value of working for anything. They believe everything should be handed to them and they should only have to make the appearance of working.
Today’s spoiled brats tell their parents, “You WILL get me a PS3 for Christmas, and here’s a list of $50 PS3 games I’d better get with it!” and the parents actually do it! I’m shocked beyond belief that people do this! It makes me glad I don’t have kids because I would have to beat their faces in the first time they told me I’d be spending a few hundred dollars on them for one holiday. Regular guilt has never worked on me, so I’m not sure parental guilt would, either. Of course, my kids would then hate me, seeing as I wouldn’t be the spineless wimp that all their peers’ parents would be!
It’s not just that it offends me personally to spend that much on one person for one holiday (although that’s a big part of it), but I’ll be honest – I love my free time, so I don’t want to work 40 hours a week. To that end, I keep my tastes simple so I can afford to not work 40 hours a week. If I had bratty, demanding kids and if I gave in to their demands, I’d have to work long hours to be able to afford them and their expensive tastes, and you know what would happen next. They’d grow up and go to therapy, blaming all their life problems on me not being home enough to properly raise them, even though the only reason I’d be working long hours would be to buy them all the shit they demanded! God damned ungrateful kids!!
I have a friend with two preteen boys who each demanded iPod Touches for xmas (among other things). These two spoiled brats already have their own cell phones (why do kids not even in high school need cell phones?) and at least one of them lost his last overpriced iPod by “forgetting” it at school and it wasn’t there when he got back. WHY would you give kids who aren’t even very responsible such an expensive toy? (I personally think $200 is too expensive to give to a kid who won’t appreciate it or take care of it, but your mileage may vary.) Worse, these kids would not be satisfied with ONLY the iPod Touch for Christmas… she had to buy them more gifts than that. She was out $400 total just for each kids’ first gift! This might not be bad if she had the income to support that, but she really can’t. Even worse? She got them each the smallest model for the iPod Touch, and one kid told her, “You’d better not have gotten me the cheap-y model. I want the big one!”
I’d have drowned that kid if he was mine.
Point 2: I’m really tired of everyone telling me that “the holidays are for the kids!” One friend told me about how broke she was after buying gifts not for her own kids (she doesn’t have kids) but for her friends’ kids. “Well, I have to buy the kids gifts! The holidays are FOR kids, you know!” No, I didn’t know that. You’re teaching the kids the wrong thing by spoiling them that way, and making them think the world revolves around them! I don’t know if this friend is just crazy or if her friends are so horrible they make her feel like she OWES their kids gifts. I’m not sure which is worse. I just don’t see going broke over OTHER people’s kids!!
I’m not big on the holidays myself. I usually don’t decorate for the holidays because I’m not big on holidays. I don’t have a huge list of people I buy presents for, but I like to get things for my friends. I make a list early and I get my holiday shopping done in November or early December, since most of those gifts have to be mailed off. I also just like to get it all out of the way.
The last couple of weeks when people have asked me the usual holiday questions, I’ve gotten the usual breeder answers.
Someone stupid: “Did you get your shopping done yet?”
Me: “Oh yea, I got mine over Thanksgiving weekend.”
Someone stupid: “Oh, that’s right, you don’t have kids, so you probably have hardly any shopping to do at all! ”
WTF? I don’t have kids, so I must not have anyone to buy for? No, I’m just more organized and I plan ahead, that’s all that means. And because I’m not blowing $500 per kid, I can buy more presents for more people, so I probably have MORE shopping to do than people with kids. Why do breeders always have to have some stupid breeder response to everything?
Someone stupid: “Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?”
Me: “No, I’m probably not doing one this year. It’s too much hassle.”
Someone stupid: “Oh, that’s right, you don’t have kids. It doesn’t mean the same thing if you don’t have kids.”
Seriously? My childfree status has nothing to do with any of it! I HATE that people have to equate everything to having kids or not having kids. If I wanted a tree, kids or no, I’d have one. I (regardless of my reproductive status) just don’t like the hassle. I don’t like the smell. I don’t like having to store a fake tree and ornaments. These are things I probably would dislike even if I HAD kids and I don’t know if I’d put up a tree if we had kids. If they complained, I’d take them to the store and let them look at all the trees there. It’s easier.
I really don’t like Christmas much (hey, I like getting gifts and I even like giving gifts, but if we abolished Christmas tomorrow, I’d be cool with that). I prefer Thanksgiving because the meaning of the holiday is much more important – being thankful vs. being greedy. Maybe if we had holiday trees for Thanksgiving I’d be more willing to decorate. Ha!
Point 3: This isn’t really a holiday thing as a general point, but whatever. At the store today, there was a kid about a year and some change screaming and screaming while its handlers ignored it. This leads me to wonder: if they are able to ignore this noise, this must be something they are used to. If kids scream all the time like that, why do people have them? Honestly, either kids can be controlled, and people who don’t are just plain too lazy to do it, or they can’t, and people actually live with this noise all the time. Which is it? If ti’s the latter, that’s horrifying! If babies and toddler are that noisy all the time, why do people have kids? Why do they have more than one, knowing what they are in for?! If I had to live with something that screamed like that all the time, I’d have left it in a dumpster on day three for sure. Who volunteers to listen to that shit for three or four straight years?! I can only guess there is some form of mental illness that causes people to want children because I can’t see how a sane person would sign up for that shit.
Point 4: I used to love doing things to help the needy this time of year, but about 10 years ago all the fun was taken out of that for me and now I don’t get involved at all unless I personally know the people in need. Half the people who sign up for those handouts aren’t really that bad off – they just don’t want to spend their own money on this stuff if they don’t have to. I recall being asked to donate foods and toys for a military donation drive one year and I did because I wanted to help people out. Shortly after donating to this drive, I found out that the people running the program told anyone of a certain rank or lower with children (because you know, people without kids could never be in need) that if they signed up they’d get some of the donations, no questions asked. Someone I knew signed up, even though he and his wife made very good money together. He laughed about it, saying, “Hell, I can afford to buy stuff, but if they’ll give it to me free, why not take it?” While I can’t entirely fault him for that, I was really disappointed that the military didn’t want to verify these people actually qualified as “in need.” There were actual families in need who didn’t get anything that year while people who were financially well-off were getting freebies just because they could. That soured the whole charitable spirit for me.
In the years since then, I met a gal who is a HUGE scammer – she finds friends, family members and a string of ex-husbands (four so far, she’s looking for victim #5 – it could be you!) to mooch off of while refusing to work, but she’s always got her hand out at Christmas time. Meanwhile, she owns designer handbags and designer dog breeds and all the latest tech gadgets that people with JOBS can’t afford, but because she won’t get a job, she gets on all the “poor people in need” lists to get handouts. Any money she manages to wrangle out of people she spends on herself for her designer lifestyle, while expecting handouts for everything else. She’s the first one down to those holiday giving trees to sign up, and she asks other people to buy her kids PSPs and Laptops!
It bothers me that if I donated to some of those “in need” programs, the stuff might go to someone just like her – professional mooches who aren’t that poor and COULD get jobs, but scamming is more fun. I honestly don’t know how she’s kept it up this long. You’d think eventually she’d run out of people to scam, but she hasn’t so far. Not in the nine years or so I’ve known her. *sigh*
Earlier this season I saw something about “help donate toys to families of deployed soldiers” and I did a double take. While this tactic might work in other communities, most of us living in military communities won’t really fall for that. We know that deployed soldiers are the least broke families in the military because a) they get more pay and benefits while in a deployed location and b) while the soldier is deployed, he (or she) spends less money, meaning he needs less money at the same time as he’s making more. It’s usually an equation for people to make out like bandits… that’s why quite a few soldiers volunteer to go back overseas – they generally make good money doing it. They can also sign up for tax free re-enlistment bonuses over there, getting a 5-figure lump sum tax free and many soldiers take advantage of that. Hell, why not if you can?
So call me a cold-hearted bitch, but someone trying to convince me I need to donate toys to these poor kids whose parents are deployed and have absolutely no money to support them, because if I don’t, the children won’t have a Christmas…. it just rubs me the wrong way. While I know it totally sucks to not to have your soldier home for the holidays (been there, done that), but these families are not broke. Extra toys won’t bring daddy home sooner, and in the service, you learn quickly (or you don’t survive) that Christmas is whenever your soldier is home, not Dec 25.
Along the same lines, I recently saw some notice in the grocery store that if you buy (whatever) product, you would be supporting a program to give pizza to military families in need. Wait, what? Call me crazy, but when I think of hungry families in need, I don’t think, “Pizza! We’ll give them pizza!” Generally I’d think of getting the most food for the money, and I’d probably think of getting them things that are somewhat healthier. Oh, but how dare I suggest that poor kids not get their favorite food, right? Poor kids should have all the luxuries of other kids! Never mind the fact that more families could be helped if cheaper foods were purchased for these needy families. But apparently their attitude is that those of us with money should donate MORE to make up for that, right?! *sigh*
It just seems so ridiculous. This time of year just seems to highlight the ridiculous.
Point 5: Since when is NYE supposed to be a family holiday?! New Year’s is supposed to be for adults and kids are supposed to be in bed by midnight or at least at home watching it on TV. Now I see places (not many yet, but enough) talking about a “family friendly” New Year’s parties and I’m blown away. Talk about diaper-whipped parents that they can’t even take a night for themselves without the kids!
I mention Christmas a fair mount in this post only because most everyone around me is doing Christmas and talking about Christmas. (Don’t even get me started on how much I hate the whole “We must force Christmas on everyone” attitude going around with the “It’s MERRY CHRISTMAS not Happy Holidays” bigoted bullshit, because it’s not a childfree issues so I’ll save that rant for another journal.)
But Happy Holidays to all of you, whatever holiday you celebrate, even if it’s only NYE. Best of luck in 2010!
Go read this childfree blog post while you’re at it. I found it very interesting and you probably will, too.