Still, it was a simpler time. And we all had fewer "toys." Barbie didn't have a $99 3-story dream house and exotic wardrobe. (I made her home out of cardboard and attempted to knit clothes for her.) We sat around the table as a family, playing cards and board games, rather than gesticulating wildly with a Wii or flying off to a ski resort or the Caribbean. The family car did not have a DVD player or iPod dock. In fact, I had to sit on the hump in the back and listen to Steve & Eydie on the radio. That may explain my high tolerance for pain and suffering and ability to tune-out annoying sounds. A gourmet side dish during a holiday meal consisted of green beans with Campbell's mushroom soup and French's artificial onions. (Bizarrely, the recipe which, according to Wikipedia, was invented in 1955, seems to live on forever.)
We're all going through an era when we are forced to ask ourselves the question, "How much 'stuff' do I really need in order to be happy?"
I think I lived in the same pair of jeans throughout most of high school. (My mother washed them while I slept, I suppose.) When I first graduated college, most of my dinners consisted of free "Happy Hour" appetizers (and I was, in fact, happy). A great library book can be as stimulating as an $8 movie. And, at work, we're all learning to do more with less. In fact, our holiday party consists of a $10 Secret Santa, a frugal lunch, and a Scrabble tournament. (We would have played Barbie, but her dream house is in foreclosure.)
Am I worred about the financial future? Of course. But am I totally miserable as I learn to adapt to new habits? Not really. I lived through a childhood of spending limits and survived one recession. I focused on the important things, got very creative with stretching dollars at work, and re-discovered the simple things in life.
If anyone knows where the free appetizers are these days, let me know! And I think those jeans are still somewhere in my basement...
Most popular toys of the 1960s and 70s. (I LOVED the red spinning wheel!)
Can Money Really Make You Happy? (NO, according to this study!)