Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mothers sacrifice. What's new? But who should benefit?

The headline, "To Buy Children's Gifts, Mothers Do Without," caught my eye this morning. I thought it might tell of mothers scrimping on food budgets, maybe on gasoline or other transportation costs, or perhaps on some small indulgence for themselves --all to be sure their kids each had a present or two to open on Christmas morning. Instead, the story Stephanie Rosenbloom tells in today's NYT is really one of largess. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Come Christmas, McKenna Hunt, a gregarious little girl from Safety Harbor, Fla., will receive the play kitchen and the Elmo doll she wants. But her mother, Kristen Hunt, will go without the designer jeans she covets this season.

* * *

“I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.’ ”

The real point of Rosenbloom's story seems to be that sales of women's apparel have fallen dramatically in recent months, so I felt a bit hood-winked by the headline. The accompanying photo by Charity Beck is more consistent with the story's message of largess for the younger generation of middle-class Americans. The photo seems dissonant with the headline, however, and it makes me think that little McKenna could probably make do with a little less. I am sympathetic to the idea that Christmas is for kids, but what is McKenna learning here?

I guess I am on a bit of soap box this morning, but this seems like excessive consumerism -- even if mom isn't getting her designer jeans. Weighing on my heart and mind are the photo (above) and story about the line of folks waiting for a Thanksgiving care package at the Sacramento Food Bank and news of the record turnout at Loaves and Fishes Thanksgiving Dinner last night here in Sacramento. Read just one story here. All of us who have shelter, warm clothes on our backs, and a secure food supply should be making sacrifices this season, but not so we can instill a me-first mentality in our children. We should do it so others can eat.

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