Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

HOLIDAYS: Sweet story has a grinchy twist

Letter by Gerry A. Strong, Grapeview on Dec. 16, 2011 at 11:13 am with 42 Comments »
December 16, 2011 5:03 pm

The article (TNT, 12-16) about anonymous donors paying off people’s layaway accounts at Kmart touched me, especially the man with the three small children.

But then there was the woman who had laid away more than $200 of toys for her 4-year-old son. What 4-year-old needs hundreds of dollars worth of toys? Maybe there are details I don’t know about, but this was a “Bah, humbug” for me.

Leave a comment Comments → 42
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    Ah, a little more socialist class warfare, there, Gerry? What business is it of yours what a parent gets for their children, or are you mad that you can’t take half of it because you feel entitled to it?

  2. colsprague says:

    I don’t know how many kids you have but $200 doesn’t buy an extravagant amount of toys these days. It’s a good amount, to be sure. But no more than I bought for my kids growing up and we weren’t rich. (The good educational toys are particularly expensive.)

  3. cclngthr says:

    Spending that amount can seem extravagant, it begs the question why spend an enormous amount of money on toys. I wonder what was purchased and whether the kid actually needed those toys.

    I grew up in a environment that set strict limits on what is spent and how much was spent on toys/playthings for kids. My parents rarely spent more than $25.00 on gifts during this time of year per child. They thought we did not need it.

    As far as these days are concerned, $200.00 is very easy to spend on stuff. Stuff now is more expensive than what my parents would buy.

  4. What Gerry neglected to add, as regards the woman who had $200 of toys on layaway for her 4 year old son, was that the woman had already paid $130 of her own money on those toys BEFORE the Good Samaritan came in and paid the $70 balance.

    When it comes to our kids, money is not the deciding factor. We want to do all that we can for them, or at least we should be doing that. Sometimes we try our best, and we can only do so much. I remember one Christmas morning when I opened my package under the tree and found one (1) Walkie Talkie. Not a set. Not a pair. Just one. It was all my folks could afford that year.

    Let me tell you, conversations are really really short when you only have one Walkie Talkie. But, on the other hand, the batteries last along time! That was over 40 years ago, and I still have the walkie talkie to this day. It’s a Hallicrafters brand.

  5. bigredone says:

    I would be cuious to know what frequency the walkie talkie is using. The Hallicrafters brand has been gone a long time, I believe. If you only got 1 it should be in mint condition :) Happy Holidays.

  6. bigredone, This one has been bouncing around for 40 years from west coast to east coast and back. Not really in “mint” condition, banged up with a dent and some scratches, but definitely low usage.

    It is a Hallicrafters Model CB-6 Transceiver, Mfg. Date 3/24/65, permanently set to Channel 11. No channel switching option, and that was never really a very popular channel to begin with.

    I’ve often though about putting it on eBay or Craig’s List, but even though it’s practically useless, it has always had a special sentimental value to me that could never be replaced.

    Merry Christmas to you!

  7. The spirit of giving on the part of the anonymous donor was the issue, not how much someone spends on their kids.

    I’m certainly glad that someone had the time to write a letter to the editor begrudging the value of a child’s christmas gifts.

  8. concernedtacoma7 says:

    This letter is about financial responsibility, not th love of a child.

    The kid would be better off with a $25 gift and rest saved for education.

  9. Another little tangent off to personal experience… to respond, kinda, to a comment from someone who shall remain nameless.

    One year the wife and I decided to splurge on our sons, and spend a little more than what we knew we should have spent. For our oldest son we bought him some camera equipment. Spent quite a lot more than we had budgeted. I suppose we could have cut back on the gift and put the rest of the money into his college fund, but we didn’t that year.

    The bottom line is, our son is a professional photographer today. So, I’m guessing we made the right call that Christmas.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Fascinating how much energy folks seem to have regarding how other people should raise their kids.

    A gift is a gift. When you start laying down conditions, the gift becomes something else.

  11. took14theteam says:

    I thought your Son was a Principal….

  12. itwasntmethistime says:

    We didn’t spend anywhere near $200 total for our 4 and 6 year old boys. When they are older we’ll get them cool gifts, like muckbir’s camera equipment, but to spend that much on toys seems foolhardy.

    The strategy I use is to buy them something to go with toys they already have. All they need is one new Lego set and they pull out all the sets they already have and play with them all for days straight. Once in a while we let them each buy a $5 Star Wars action figure and that gets them excited about playing with the stuff they already have.

  13. yabetchya says:

    I did the same thing..Spent a whole lot of $, thinking it was a good thing. After no thanks, and no responces(Family spread our ) Shut the Holiday spending scramble to nill.

  14. alindasue says:

    cclngthr said, “My parents rarely spent more than $25.00 on gifts during this time of year per child. They thought we did not need it”

    I don’t know your age, but judging from comments you’ve made here and in other threads, I’d guess you’re at least my age…

    $25 went a lot farther in the 70s and the 80s than it does now. Today, $25 might buy one halfway decent gift – if you are a careful shopper.

  15. ReadNLearn says:

    So a person who is not only one who wouldn’t try to make a child’s holiday a bit better also wishes to voice his dislike for helping others make a wonderful Christmas for others and perhaps wishes to discourage others from doing the same?

    Please take a second to think about that…

    Gerry, I’m sorry about whatever happened or didn’t happen in your childhood and I wish you a Merry Christmas!

  16. Gerry…..what did you think the Christmas layaway accounts were buying if not toys for children?

    Just to be clear here – the woman who put $200 worth of toys on layaway was making regular payments, had paid down the account to $70, and was intending to pay-off the account before Christmas. She didn’t ask for help paying it off. Some anonymous donor chose to do that.

  17. Ah, a little more socialist class warfare, there, Gerry?

    Really Blaine?

    Believe it or not, not everything that is annoying can be believably demonized as “socialist class warfare”.

  18. You are like Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo who claimed that the reason why his hamburger was overcooked was due to anti-semitism.

    I swear, there is a new right-wing variation of Turget’s Syndrome where sufferers uncontrollably shout out “socialist” “class warfare” “communist” “Kenyan” “Muslim” and other nonsense whenever they get agitated.

  19. beerBoy, Looks like more than a few people here agree that old Gerry has a bit of the Bah Humbug on as he even admits.

    (But, aside from that, because it takes all kinds of people to make up the world, I think you may be on to something with you hypothesis about the Right)_wing variation of Tourette’s Syndrome. That would explain quite a bit in some of the other topic threads.)

    To Gerry let me just say…

    Santa-Up Gerry!

  20. harleyrider1 says:

    I think you are mixing up your Grinch and Scrooge memories.

    A new bicycle can cost a lot these days and it’s very easy to get to $400 very fast in the year 2011.

    However, that aside… Why is it that you are your brother’s keeper? Why do you see yourself as the one to determine how any individual should spend their “own” money?

  21. LarryFine says:

    You forgot “racist” bB… which should be at the TOP of your list… then again, that’s the left-wing variation of Turget’s Syndrome.

  22. cclngthr says:

    My parents firmly believed that spending a foolishly large amount of money on a kid was unnecessary, and limited spending of gifts to a $25.00 limit. They wanted us to not have a bunch of toys to fool around with, but to have us figure out on our own to play outside or alone.

    They also never bought us junk from a store if we went with them. If we wanted something either we paid for it, with direct consent of our parents or we did without.

    I remember buying an Atari video game when I was in high school, and my mom threw it in the trash when she found I bought it and she did not want me to have it.

  23. ReadNLearn says:

    Sorry cc, you have some messed up parents. They weren’t sending you some deep life message.

  24. cclngthr says:

    Is it ABSOLUTELY necessary to buy stuff for a kid at will of the kid? I see kids begging for crap all the time in stores and their parents (or people they are with) freely giving into the begging. Saying NO to the kid might be the best thing. The kid has to learn that they should earn the reward every once in a while.

    I remember as a kid wanting candy and junk food. As an adult, I see the point my parents wanted to make.

    Kids, in general have no concept of earning a reward. They also have no concept of proper nutrition either.

    I learned to budget early on and if I wanted something expensive, either I had to forgo other stuff to get it, or earn it by working for it.

  25. andreab451 says:

    CC, I’m firmly with you on teaching kids to budget, earn rewards, eat proper nutrition, etc. BUT…. I can’t think of any Atari games bad enough to warrant a parent just tossing it out after a high school aged kid had earned the money and bought it for themselves. Some of the games nowadays, yea, but none of the Atari era games.

  26. cclngthr says:

    My mom was a firm believer that video games are a hazard to kids well being, particularly how they play them all day, every day (somehow she realized this early on, which I see this very frequently now). She felt, even with a high school aged kid should concentrate on getting schoolwork done and getting a job; not sitting in front of a TV playing any video games. (I know for sure, if she had her way, any video game system would not exist). She felt kids need to be physical when playing and use their heads/imagination when playing.

    As a teacher, I often see/hear about kids spending all day playing video games and many parents not limiting the use of the games. Many encourage kids to play the games by allowing TV’s and video games to be in the kids’ room.

  27. ReadNLearn says:

    cc, as my spoiled sister who loathed playing outside told the school board when she opted to drop all forms of PE and focus on studies, back in the late 1970’s, “Those kids who are great at PE will be working for the people who work for me.” She’s a software executive and she’s right. In contrast, I was good in PE, very active and I don’t make all that much money now. I should have stayed indoors, played with those early computers non stop and listened to my mother.

    A friend of ours, younger, and very into computer games from the onset, and definitely not into physical education and pampered with nice gifts by a generous mother, works for Microsoft…the last time I saw him, someone, checking out his new sports car mentioned that, that model doesn’t come with a black leather interior. He simply smiled and agreed as he leaned back in his comfy black leather seat.

  28. ReadNLearn says:

    Oh, one of the amusements in life-individuals who can’t even program their DVR’s and hook up a printer say that PC users and gamers are ‘wasting’ their time, but don’t complain when those same kids have to set up the tech clueless person’s cell phones, computers and cable.

  29. cclngthr says:

    As my parents saw it, physical activity and imagination was key to success. They firmly believed that kids must use their imagination in play and play outside (weather permitting) and focus on using their head and have as little toys as possible. To them, toys are not a devise that is a single use thing, as a video game is. I was given toys (as a young child) that consisted of blocks, and similar toys that I had to use my head to figure out how they could be used.

    As a 5 year old (in a toe to chest body cast), I was given broken stuff and a screwdriver set. Was told to see if I could get it to work. Electic motors have plenty of tiny parts. I also was given small electronic kit projects where I could build stuff that actually work. Radios, motors, generators, etc.

    At age 8, my dad told me to take a lawnmower engine apart and rebuild it alone. From then on until I was 16, I repaired small engines in the summer. I started working with kids at that age, and still do.

    I have no problem with cell phones or complex DVD/electronic devises. When I was hired at TSD, I supervised a computer lab and hand built a lot of the equipment for the kids to use the computers. They needed devises to use the computer due to severe physical disabilities they have. With a limited array of adaptive hardware, I found it better to hand build custom devises to do that.

    I feel my parents are correct. They felt that kids need to use their brains during active play.

  30. When I was a child, it was customary for to get one toy or special gift, and much needed clothes or other items.

  31. Cc – similar story one generation back.

    When my father-in-law wanted a car, his dad took him over to a neighbor’s field and pointed to an old, rusted out Ford Model T truck, and told him that it was now his (father-in-law), and to come see him when it was running.

    I did a little better, my first car came from the back row of a mom-n-pop used car lot. Actually it was a used used-car lot for those who could not afford a real car but were too proud to walk.

    When I was in high school one could tell the student lot by the number on older junkers and jalopies. Today, go by almost any high school and the best cars are in the student lot, the older cars are in the teacher’s lot.

  32. cclngthr says:

    My parents family initially DID NOT have a car, they were born in the 1910’s and when they did get a car, it was a Model T.. They lived in a small town in Kansas on a farm. Walking was a given back before WWII.

    My first car was once my brothers; a 74 El-Camino that he rolled when he took a corner at 60 mph. I bought it for a couple hundred and had to learn body work to fix it. It took about 4 months of daily work to get the body good (frame was good). LT1 Corvette engine and performance automatic transmission later, that car was the best one on the school lot. I always had good cars, I took plain cars and modified them. Over the last 10 years, I had Hyundai’s and made them cool.

    As far as the schools where I have taught, everyone knew the best car on the lot was mine. Teachers were insanely jealous because I have the best car.

    I do think kids today have it extremely easy. They don’t have to do squat and they get a mountain of stuff for doing nothing.

  33. Cc,
    The teachers were jealous!
    I beat the students were mega envious.

    Please tell me you taught Auto Shop and
    passed you sills on to the next generation.

  34. cclngthr says:

    I taught auto along with SPED in the auto class for several years. One year, I found a 68 Chev pickup body and a short bed box. Nothing else. I took that to the school shop and we did the following during the school year:
    1. Custom built a Art Morrisson Enterprises designed frame using 2×6 .240 wall DOM rectangular tubing with 2 2×2 rectangular DOM tubing for the section from the firewall to the bumper. The 2×2’s were welded together to make a super strong 2×4.
    2. The suspension was made from 1.5 inch round DOM tubing with air ride capability. The rear suspension we had to custom build a 4 link setup, and the front end we used a independent suspension design that is capable of having the air bags.
    3. The rear end we had to narrow enough (and tub the box to fit custom made rear tires (20 inch wide DOT approved tires for custom 18 inch rims). It was originally a 14 bolt rear end, but we put a locker in it along with gearing for street/strip use.
    4. The engine was a 572 BBC that we had to play with. We changed the heads, intake, cam, pistons, rods, and installed a roots supercharger with direct injection for it. Bone stock, the 572 is capable of 650 hp. End result is approximately 1200 hp at the crank.
    5. The transmission we tried was a performance TH400, but that only lasted a week due to the power. I had to put a Allisson 6 speed commercial transmission in it to handle the power and torque of the engine. What is neat about the Allisson is it has a PTO and capability where a paddle shifter can be used. Since it is an electronically controlled unit, and with direct injection of the engine, a ECU had to be wired in.
    6. Custom A/C, power windows and some other good stuff later, along with custom steering column and electronic gauges to look like stock gauges later (custom ordered)the interior was finished.
    7. Body/paint work. Kids had to figure out chemistry because there are reducers for different temperatures and they had to use the right chemical so the paint would not only adhere to the surface, but also lay down correctly without runs/sags and dry at the right time. They also had to learn why body filler cracks and how to form metal without using filler material. I brought in a lot of my tools for this, including a planishing hammer and an English wheel.

    Kids learned math, chemistry, geometry, reading, writing, algebra, trig, computer science, computer programming, and a lot more academic subjects that they had to apply to do the work.

    The principal was not happy because she wanted subjects to be taught in isolation of the application. Teachers also do not like my method either. I want students to learn by using concepts; foreign in our education system.

  35. BlaineCGarver says:

    Bottom Line: MYOB

  36. ReadNLearn says:

    cc, yeah, and some folks say that if they’re good customers they don’t have to tip the wait staff because they appreciate good customers.

    There’s always excuses to be cheap.

    A few hundred dollars is nothing for children’s gifts now. A tablet, some game programs, and a few aps for the smart phone eat up a lot of money and will give a child a competitive edge.

    But it’s good that some have other views regarding empowering children with quality toys and tech. Someone has to cut our grass.

  37. Cc – your principal was wrong. IMO one of the problems with our education system is that subjects are not in isolation of application but in isolation from each other. In college I had several experience where other students would get mad at me when I would intorduce cross discipline example and applications.

    Does learning to cut grass come before are after learning how to clean a school bathroom?

    It was not all that long ago that schools were for learning to read and write, the real world was for learning job skills.

  38. As Henry Kissinger said, the politics in academia are so bad precisely because there is so little at stake.

    This extends to K-12 as well.

    Jealousy of others’ success is rampant. Others doing well make some resentful because it makes them look bad by comparison. Seen it many times in many situations.

    Being a brilliant teacher requires a lot more than just fulfilling the required curriculum. And it requires taking risks. Most stay safe and are quite content with their mediocrity….until some “arrogant” educator moves in and the kids start getting excited about learning and then they start actually thinking about things and stop just killing time until they can get out of the class. It really sucks when the kids start thinking and won’t blindly accept the dross you are feeding them – they start to challenge you!

  39. cc “are not in isolation of application” should have been “are not only taught in isolation of application”

    BerrBoy – there is also a growing dislike and distrust of educated people.

  40. LarryFine says:

    … yea, like all those disgruntled OWS college grads…

  41. Larry – More like the Rebulican Base = anyone republican supporter not in the top 10%.

    Also see “The Republican War on Science”

  42. My wife, after viewing a story about the “layaway Santas”, pointed out that this has only happened at KMart and wondered aloud whether this was some sort of P.R. scheme for their layaway program.

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