What are you going to give me for Christmas?

One of my best Christmas memories is having a parent work for Crouse-Hinds and attending the company’s annual Christmas party at Loew’s Theater downtown. The place was packed and for a few hours on a Saturday morning we were entertained by the cast of the Magic Toyshop and lots of cartoons.

The highlight of the morning came at the end. As you left the theater the lobby was lined with tables loaded with stacks of toys. It wasn’t just Crouse-Hinds that held large holiday parties for the families of their employees, other large companies held similar events.
Crouse-Hinds, a local company, was rewarding their employees by creating this massive family event. As Crouse-Hinds and other companies became part of larger entities these events disappeared and the focus on the Christmas holiday as an event to be celebrated became just another day off from work.

Since the unemployment rate was low at the time these companies provided the economic success that gave their working class employees income to buy gifts for the family on their own. If there was someone in your family in need you just bought an extra gift or two.

Children suffer the most when the bottom falls out of an economy, especially the manufacturing economy.

Today, hundreds of millions of dollars in payroll losses later, we have the need for a huge toy event that ensures that lower income children share in the joy of the season. The Christmases I remember had our parents active in the local economy and having that decent paying manufacturing job was the blessing.

It was also a time when people appreciated what they were given and what they had. Today, I’m not so sure. When I was a kid there were no “food stamps” or “EBT” cards in which to put your purchases on. If you were in need you’d go to the local Armory and receive peanut butter, so hard it would roll up your bread as you spread it out. And yet I hear people with little plastic cards complaining as they load free food in their carts. Damn.

I listen to people whine about their job, their “tired” boss, the “greedy” company, the “inadequacies” of the government entity they’re employed by and so on.

Being thankful has been replaced by “give me,” as in “give me” a tax cut for the wealthy. “Give me” more free medical aid regardless of who has to pay for it.

Perhaps it’s not appropriate to say this during this festive and humbling of holidays but we Americans, regardless of income, are acting like piglets on a teat. For proof just listen to the whining of each extreme as they demand more, more, more: “cut taxes,” “cut aid to the poor.” It’s a dizzying blur of interests, perhaps a new recession-based holiday song, but it still ends with the refrain “give me.”

So, what are you going to“give me” for Christmas? Look at the line of people waiting to receive toys for their children and be thankful for what you’ve got.