I was a very lucky child for the first decade of my life and kind of feel sorry for today's kids growing up in this consumer-driven world.
It was the '70's: toys were simple yet provided hours of endless fun (who remembers Light Bright? Legos? Etch-a-Sketch? Dominos? Card games? Spirograph?), TV was a treat for Saturday morning cartoons and my parents never needed to tell us to "go play outside" - it is where we wanted to be the most, no matter the season.
We were lucky to live in a tiny green village by the river. Dad built us a sandbox and a swing set from leftover lumber and rope. We had tonka trucks, bikes and fishing poles for summer, crazy carpets and snowball fights for winter, we built tree houses for all seasons and a good game of hide-and-seek was thrilling. We found wonderment and entertainment in picking wild berries that grew nearby or building "dams" in the ditches during spring thaw.
School was a 5-minute walk away and parents were not afraid to send their kids out to play: everyone knew everyone and crime only happened in big dirty cities far away. Nobody stole your bike or painted graffiti on garage doors.
Mom's job was to stay home and take care of the family. She made our clothes, baked fresh bread, made jams in the autumn and seeded our big garden in the spring. Dad was authority and no kid ever dared throw a tantrum in the supermarket. Ever. I remember those summer movie treats at the drive-in an hour away and the few times we ate at restaurants were like christmas.
Looking back now I realise we were poor. My parents drove an old beat-up rusty car and we never went to Disneyland. Raising three kids on a train repairman's salary was rough - but they did it with grace and dignity for as long as they could (divorce in 1979 shattered everything, but that is a story for another time).
What is poverty?
I loved our big old house and the surrounding chaos of the train tracks, the big rushing river and all that wilderness.
I had all the toys I could possibly want and remember colorful exciting christmases, birthdays, halloweens with home-made awesome costumes and easter egg hunts. I loved school and didn't even mind the stupid Sunday school so much.
We ate fresh produce from the garden and home-made healthy food, our clothes never had missing buttons, mom was always there for scraped knees with a kiss and a bandage... and oh, that time I got my first "real" bike.. shiny brand new pride and joy! Secure a playing card on the spokes with a clothespin and you have yourself a roaring cycle!
We didn't have computers, cellphones or metal detectors in our school. We learned to read and write using our brains, not cheat tools. How often do we send (and receive) hand-written letters nowadays? Mailboxes are for bills and flyers - there is no heart there anymore.
Parents did not negociate with children, they were leaders and mentors who were to be respected, not talked back to or kicked in the shins. My world was a big friendly place where neighbors watched out for one another and all pitched in during difficult times. Nobody thought to poison halloween candy and TV shows did not need to be censored.
I dunno, seems to me that things were so much easier back then. What are today's kids really getting "more of" that we didn't have 30 years ago? Are we bettering ourselves as a society or are technology and rabid consumerism ruining it for everyone?