Morrison at All Doors Considered has a particularly poignant post today wherein her financials are discouraging, and she doesn't see it getting a lot better, either for her family or for the country.
She especially does not want to be told that there is upside to managing in the current economy.
But while I understand her position, I also disagree with her. Sometimes there IS an upside to deprivation.
One family Thanksgiving decades ago when my family got together, my sister and I reminisced about the good times we'd had as children. We both agreed as to the best summer of our lives--we were preteens and our parents took us to a local lake nearly every day. We stayed all day, picnicked for lunch and dinner, hung out with other families, learned to water ski (or fall off the skis in my case!) from a neighbor who had a boat, found out all the words to "Louie, Louie" and why they were considered dirty, and, after a month or so, saw our mother venture into the water for the first time. It was the one and only summer I actually got a tan.
Our parents were stunned.
They, too, remembered that summer but their memories were a lot less rosy.
My father was a longshoreman and that summer, he was on strike for three months. There was no Unemployment Compensation and they had little savings. They had to ask my mother's parents for mortgage money. They literally fed us oatmeal, deviled meat (from Abundant Foods, the predecessor to Food Stamps) and hot dogs all summer because it was what they could afford. Their car was paid for, and the lake was nearby, so their one small extravagance was the gas to get there.
My sister and I didn't recall that we had eaten the same cheap foods for lunch and dinner. We just remember going on the picnics and how much fun it was at the lake with our friends and our parents.
My point is that my parents were financially stressed to the max but still they managed to put their free time, if not money, to good use. Growing up in the fifties and sixties, it always appeared to me that my sister and I had a closer relationship to our father than most of our friends had with theirs. I trace it to that magical summer when he was available to us and willing to talk with us on any subject.
Did my parents ever want to repeat that summer? Not in a million years.
Would my sister and I go there again under the same circumstances? In a split second!