This time of year even people with a lot of money worry about money. An average American spends $786 on Christmas gifts. And now, with the halls un-decked and all those live trees dumped. What’s next? Yup, the tax man.
I talk to folks who are gainfully (or painfully) employed, their eyebrows curled inwards, wondering about the possible pension changes or the next rising bill. Some wealthy friends wonder if they’ll stay that way. And people with less are stressed. A friend was laid off last
week — a few days before Christmas. Whose idea was that, Scrooge’s?
Money’s on my mind and it’s draining, (in more ways than one.) I’m shuffling the money deck, trying to figure out the next plan, or reading the news about someone else’s deep pockets. Whether it’s unemployment, Social Security or the IRS, money makes my head spin unless I go into denial or turn to faith.
I’ve always had money, either with help from my parents or from my own businesses. Just always made it, had it, married it, inherited it or borrowed it. The crazy cost of rent alone just blows my sockets, or maybe my socks, off. I mean, work all day (if you can find a job), come home to crumble in front of TV and then spend $1,700 to have a bedroom or kitchen. What is up? I feel like I’m holding onto the end of a kite.
Baby boomers are the biggest segment of the population. We want to retire, but what’s the plan? We’re looking for alternatives, from mobile homes and relocation to reverse mortgages. What to do? Get a job at 70? Play with precarious stocks? Move in with friends?
What to do? Rich or poor, why not help more in meaningful ways instead of laying back? How much do we give to the needy? Are we too busy trying to pay Uncle Sam? Or, maybe we figure that a cruise and a donation is enough.
Anyway, aging friends say it’s the kids’ jobs, “we’re done”. Sure, I’d like to wash my hands of it, take a bath, drink some bubbly, nibble on bonbons, but my bathtub doesn’t work that well. So I shower, say “brrrhhh” in the winter, and pray for another day, another dollar.
Maybe you can give it to God, and trust. Our money still says “In God We Trust,” doesn’t it? Or, do we take more direct action?
We live in the wealthiest nation in the world. Yet, nearly 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. At least 1.2 million people over 65 are classified as extremely poor. Who knows what will happen to our “security net” if we don’t speak up? As George Carlin said, “They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
No matter how many times you toss the coin, we each make hard choices about how to live and survive. Whoever controls the purse strings, the buck stops here. The good news? Many people and organizations work hard to change the world. We can all participate, inside our homes or on the globe.
As I write, a squirrel hops around outside my window. He has the right idea. Save those nuts. (Still I notice that each year shelters take in eight million animals and almost half are euthanized.)
It’s time for change, but not small change. Speak up, do something for fairness, safety and the common good. Why don’t the Boomers insist on protection for the people, the earth, air and animals, healthcare, social security, neighborhood watch, distribution of wealth, jobs and housing? We can still stand up.
You can’t take it with you, but you can still make a difference.
Katy Byrne, MFT, Psychotherapist, Sonoma, Ca. Working with transitions, couples, eating disorders and the kitchen sink.