Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sense, Sensibility and Spam

I recently read an article that said American families were eating more Spam due the increased price of gas and food. At first I laughed because 1) Spam is funny and 2) I really like the song "Spam" by Save Ferris. Go ahead, dance a little, I know you like the song. If you don't know Save Ferris, then just sing "Spam, spam, spam, spam" ala Monty Python.

Then I thought more seriously about the plight of the American middle class family, more likely than not, like the family I was raised in. My dad was a fireman and my mom taught kindergarten in Catholic School. Thankfully, I never wanted for anything. I was by no means spoiled.

We at Spam, really weird frozen Salisbury Steaks and Chipped Beef on Toast (which was fun because we were allowed to say "shit on a shingle" and not get yelled at for swearing. My parents to this day don't comprehend my love for really good food and wine or my obsession with the Food Network. They ask where I came from, although I'm pretty sure they remember bringing me home from the hospital. I know my mom shopped for items on sale and used coupons. We had snacks but not a pantry full of junk food. Soda was a treat. McDonalds was a rare occasion. We ate dinner at home before/after activities and ate bagged lunches with the exception of 1 or 2 times a week. My friends all did the same thing. No one complained.

Our family for the longest time only had one car (even with both parents working), we did not have cable TV until I was in high school and we went out to eat rarely. My parents made sure I had a private education, dance lessons, piano lessons, brownies and ski club. Mostly, they made sure I had appreciation for what we had. I don't ever remember hearing them compare themselves to the neighbors or anyone at church. They were careful with their money and I'm sure at times struggled a bit at times. However, they did not spend to excess or go into debt only to keep up with the latest trends or to impress anyone. You looked forward to Christmas and your birthday because that is when you got something really special. When it was time for college, I was on my own...they laid the foundation...it was up to me to build from there.

I think the plight of the middle class (and I don't mean working poor) in many ways was brought on themselves. Where is the restraint? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the appreciation for waiting for something that comes to you because you earned it and paid for it yourself? Who came up with the idea that instant gratification is a "right"?


Dave S. said...

Why, Clinton, of course. Duh.

Actually I remember noting the change in mood when Reagan became president. There was a sense that we could have whatever we wanted, damn the consequences. (Who taught us that deficits don't matter, Mr. Cheney?)

Fortunately it was morning in America and I was a callow youth, and now that I am a callow adult I can see that, while government power emanated from Washington, social mores were being set in Little Rock.

Fantastic first post, by the way!

Anonymous said...

I second Dave S.

Am in complete agreement with you on that last paragraph -- yet cannot deny that my spouse and I have been known to spoil our kid (who is an only child, one we thought we would never have) and have gotten used to (and like) having the things we as kids didn't have.

That said, we always say, if we lost our jobs or a lot of money, we would have no issue with cutting back. We appreciate the things we have, but know they are just things.

Yes, the sense of entitlement and instant gratification in this country, especially in the NYC Metro Area, is quite nauseating -- and troubling.

Dave S. said...

However, I expected a Colin Firth reference in there somewhere based (loosely) on the post title. I am sure our lady readers are disappointed.