Local view: This holiday season is a lesson in caringI want to give my kids everything. I do. I combat this desire with the knowledge that if I do, they will never learn the benefits of hard work or the feeling of earning anything.
By: Moriah Erickson, Duluth News Tribune
I want to give my kids everything. I do. I combat this desire with the knowledge that if I do, they will never learn the benefits of hard work or the feeling of earning anything.
I did not grow up in poverty. I would like to say I did, but both my parents made a comfortable income, as I suspect my spouse and I both do. I’d like to say I rose up from adversity, but any adversity I arose from was created by my own doing. I never knew hunger until I left my parents’ home. I never knew things could happen like your electricity or your gas could be shut off. I thought those were human rights, somehow inalienable whether or not you paid the bills. I learned quickly this was not the case.
Now we are upon the season of excess. We are thankful at Thanksgiving, sure, because that is what we are supposed to be. We talk about family and friends, food on the table, a roof over our heads, cable TV, a good job and our health. But that tends to go by the wayside for the mad scramble to ready ourselves for our holiday celebrations. And judging by the advertisements, the mall parking lots, the lines at Target and the balance in my savings account, it isn’t just me who has gotten a little bit carried away — yet again.
This year, though, I want things to be different. I don’t want to have another year go by where there is a mad frenzy of gift-opening and where kids are tallying up the costs, trying to see if someone got more than them, making sure it is all fair. I want to tell them life isn’t fair; whoever told them that was full of baloney. I want to make them realize just how good they’ve got it.
I’m not going to take my kids down to a soup kitchen or the food bank or Skid Row to shame them. It isn’t their fault homelessness exists or hunger or addiction or any of the things the holier-than-thous preach about on certain days of the year (and only certain days, mind you). We will talk about these things, though, because while it isn’t their fault, they, like the rest of us, should be aware these are persistent issues in even our community.
Because while I want to give my kids everything, I know that wanting is good, too. I want them to realize that not everyone wants the same things, that some wants are more fundamental than others. I want them to know that just by being born who they are, in the situation we created through generations of privilege, they are not immune from caring about other human beings.
I want them to know that is the true spirit of the holiday, and that by simply acknowledging they have so much more than others they have taken a big step in bridging the gap that exists between the proverbial “us” and “them.”
Moriah Erickson is a writer, a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page and a respiratory therapist who lives in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood with her husband, a self- employed flooring contractor, their voiceless hound dog and their seven children.