A Dollar for Christmas (and Tripping Down Memory Lane with Ghosts of Christmases Past)
I get a weekly newsletter called "NeatNew and exLibris," written by Marylaine Block. I think I've mentioned it here before. Today's issue had a link to this essay: The Present Value of One. Ms. Block has written about the many and varied things we can still buy for kids with one lowly dollar bill. It's worth a read.
Now, I can remember a time when my mom would drive me to the grocery store, hand me a dollar, and send me in for three pounds of hamburger. AND I got change back. I don't know what the minimum wage was forty-odd years ago, but I know those dollars came as a result of many hours of hard work on our farm.
On one memorable occasion, probably in the early-to-mid-1960s, Mom spent, like, $45.00 on groceries. As I recall, the cash register tape was about three or four feet long. Bear in mind that we raised our own beef, had our own dairy herd for milk, and canned or froze a lot of our vegetables and fruits, so this was probably for other stuff, like cleaning supplies and sugar and flour and other staples. Dad hit the roof.
"How did you manage to spend that much money on groceries?" A, umm, "discussion" ensued. I seem to recall that the receipt ended up being taped to the wall beside Dad's chair at the kitchen table, and Mom checked off the items as she used them, until Dad got the message and threw it away.
As a child, one of my favorite Christmas songs was this one, from an album (yes a VINYL ALBUM, jeeze I'm old!) called Christmas is for Children.
I've Got Eighteen Cents
I've got eighteen cents to spend for Christmas:
Don't know what to do.
Must buy gifts for Mom and Dad
And Sister and Teacher and Rover, too.
I'll get Daddy two big books of matches
For when he wants to smoke
Mommy'll get a new ashtray
Just like the one I kinda broke!
A penny for the matches, a nickel for the tray
That leaves twelve whole cents!
And Rover gets a soupbone the butcher gives away
And Teacher gets a ruler to take measurements.
That will leave ten cents to spend for Christmas
Sis gets a candy bar.
Then I'll still have five cents left
To buy our tree a silver star
Sorry, I don't know the artist or composer, and am writing the words from memory. Call me and I'll sing a few bars for you. I guess it's not so PC these days to talk about buying smoking-related gifts for one's parents, but you must know that in those days, even hospitals and bank lobbies had ashtrays. Indoors.
The album also had "The Little Christmas Stocking with the Hole in the Toe" and a song about a place called, I think, "Tinkertown" where the "folks are no different from us, but their voices they can't control. When Tinkertown folks all start to sing, it sounds like they're standing in a hole." Of course a Christmas carol fixed that little problem and there was a happy ending.
That record and Fred Waring (of blender fame) and the Pennsylvanians' Twas the Night Before Christmas ("Rudolph, you crazy, mixed-up reindeer!") were the soundtrack of many childhood Christmases. I know you remember, Cherryl!
So here I sit beside a Christmas tree with lights and a few ornaments on it. Guess I should get away from this keyboard and add a few baubles and bangles. Happy childhood memories, and, 'God bless us, every one.'