In Britain we are a fairly affluent country, despite having been in recession and currently suffering ‘austerity’ measures. But don’t worry our children will enjoy another bumper Christmas this year with massive amounts of toys, other presents, as well as a mountain of chocolates and sweets – in fact a totally excessive amount! Is this actually good for them? It is not that they are simply ‘spoilt’; it is something that has become part of ‘normal’ life in this country. Strictly speaking it may not apply to the kids in the poorest families struggling to survive, but it certainly applies to the majority, particularly middle class, of children. How the heck has that come about?
In past times, most families were relatively poor. They were good times though – when people were friendly, neighbourly, looked after each other, worked hard (without benefits) , didn’t even have to lock their doors, had bikes if they were lucky and certainly no cars, brought up their families diligently, taught their kids right from wrong, (and were mortified if they got into trouble), families avoided shame, didn’t eat or drink in the street and certainly didn’t drop litter, walked miles everywhere, kept friendly mongrel dogs who wouldn’t dream of attacking or even biting anyone (and chewed bones from the butchers – can’t get those these days can you!), everyone including children was respectful of others, police were a community icon, food was limited so no obese parents or their children – nothing got wasted and people shopped every day in real shops(served by attentive assistants not disinterested zombies) so they so didn’t have or need a fridge or freezer. Eggs were really free range fresh from a farm and meat was not full of added water, whichmeans it doesn’t cook properly. Families lived for their children and wives and husbands didn’t have affairs or get divorced – and the majority of teenagers didn’t have multiple one-night stands and beget children for the rest of us to support.
Education for children was meagre, but sought after by the enlighten parents. Teachers were amongst the most respected people in society, and held in awe by their pupils and parents alike – oh dear so what has happened there then? Doctors (GPs) were allocated to a single family, knew them personally, often brought their children into the world, and cared night and day for their welfare.
Public transport was great, and cheap – buses were reliably on time and trains ran to even the smallest towns. No one had even seen an aeroplane let alone been on one or fly to Majorca – if a family could ever aspire to a holiday, it was the seaside in a caravan (no shower or toilet inside those days!); those who couldn’t manage that hoped for a family day trip to the coast on a coach – and an amazing candy-floss or toffee apple or stick of rock, and perhaps a fair ride to boot. Kids used to be able to play safely in the street outside their homes, with improvised toys like an old rubber bike tyre and a stick to hit it with and make it roll, or hopscotch using some chalk or rounders if they had a bat & ball, or tag or hide and seek (costing nothing) . They played in the gutter with total enjoyment, and energy!
Today’s kids can’t ever amuse themselves for a minute – whose fault is that? Not the children for sure. Us parents of course! Society changes with time, as has it has been immemorial – not always for the good though! Children, even the youngest, can only survive these days if they have Televisions in their bedrooms, games machines, iPads, mobile phones, laptops, electronic games, designer trainers and clothes, bikes, skateboards, prams, and everything else.
Earlier this century Christmas was a truly magical tine for our children. It was when Mums & Dads pushed the boat out to give an unbelievable treat and time for their kids. The scrimped and saved all year to buy that very special mindboggling present that would be remembered for the whole future ahead. They filled stocking with thrilling goodies – a real sock was used at that time, and it was stuffed with small secret wrapped items such a Satsuma, a single chocolate coin, a penny whistle, a walnut, in good times a banana, a sweet, a tiny bar of chocolate, or the like. Nothing expensive of course (not these days anyway). Kids were over the moon. Christmas Day lunch was a BIG event – a turkey for the most well off (and a silver sixpence hidden in the Christmas Pud for each of the kids!).
Homes these days no longer have a small cupboard under the stairs holding their children’s’ toys – nowadays homes HAVE to have a playroom to house all their kids toys! Where the hell are the new Christmas toys going to go? Particularly in light of the Government’s vile Bedroom Tax (so called)!
A rewarding report in a newspaper recently concerned a child who told her Mum that she didn’t want any toys this Christmas as she wanted them to go to children who didn’t have any and needed them – out of the mouths of babes, as they say!
[Why not make this Christmas magical for a kid? A kid you don’t know. A kid you will never see. A kid in another country. A kid who has nothing. Many organisations are collecting shoeboxes that some of us are filling with those small gifts that will bring a leap of excitement to an impoverished infant. You will never see it. You can wake up on Christmas Day though and think about it. Contact your local church, they will either be collecting or be able to guide you.].