Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Can They Really Compare?

Are children getting greedier?  Or are children just children, no matter the century?

That's the question i asked myself when i saw the story comparing the list of what children asked for back in 1913, as compared to 2013.

The lists were as follows:


Rocking horse
Toy Train


Furby Boom 
Teksta Robotic puppy
LeapPad Ultra
Flying Fairy
Big Hugs Elmo
Barbie Dream House
Giggle Monkey
Nerf Gun
Ninja Turtles

The stark contrasts between the lists, and the fact that kids letters to Santa a hundred years ago often included basic necessities, has led people to assume that kids today are much more greedy.

Is it that they are greedier, or is it much more complicated than that?

The fact is, most kids today in the part of the world where these lists were written have the majority of their needs met.  They get candy coming out of the wazoo, and oranges and nuts are available year 'round in the local grocery story instead of being an exotic treat.  A hundred or more years ago, books could be a treasure (just ask Abe Lincoln) and most kids asked for toys that their friends had, which included dolls and toy trains.

When i read the Little House books, i was always intrigued by what the girls got in their stockings.  But if Laura and Mary were alive today, even if they were living on a farm in South Dakota, would they be content now with candy, and a penny, and a new tin cup each so they wouldn't have to share?  Or would they, being surfeited with candy after Halloween, and having enough dishes in the kitchen to make sharing a cup unnecessary, not to mention the fact that the pennies wouldn't do much for them, be asking for what their friends have and what they see on TV?

Is it really so different today?  Kids who don't need mittens because they not only have them, but ride to school in a bus or car instead of walking in the snow (uphill, both ways, as the stories go) are much more likely to opt for a toy than a piece of clothing.  Children who watch TV and see other kids with these toys are going to want them.  Have the kids become greedier because the price tags associated with the toys pitched to them have gone up?

Has the fact that you can hardly go into a store and buy a toy that isn't a tech gadget taught them to expect tech gadgets?  Especially when the parents have tech gadgets?  When i went to get a "learning toy" for one child, i gave up on finding something that wasn't a "push the buttons" toy.  Instead, i bought that toy and extra batteries, so the beleaguered mother wouldn't have to worry about running out for a while

Perhaps to a degree, and among children who get their every wish every year, there is more greed.  That might say more about the parents, though, who don't teach kids realistic limits than it says about children who are trained to expect things to be a certain way.  In C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, he points out that a child who sees a different type of fish knife at another person's house will think, comparing them to the fish knives at her own home, that "those aren't proper fish knives at all."  Children think what they are trained in until they get old enough to go out into the world and get more information for themselves, and a child trained to believe he should get what he asks for at Christmas is going to ask, and not see it as greed, but as normal.

A wish list in a country where children aren't as secure as most are in our part of the world would read very differently, which leads me to believe that kids are pretty much the same.  They are told to ask for something they would like, and they take cues from the environment, what others around them have or want, if their basic needs are already met.  If those are not met, they ask for those things.

Maybe greed is a relative term.

Today is:

Agonalia -- Ancient Roman Empire; also observed
     Festival for Diva Palatua -- guardian of Palatine Hill
     Septimonia -- to honor the Seven Hills of Rome

Feast of Sekhmet, Bast, and Ra -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (goddess of warfare, feline goddess, and sun god; date approximate)

Fourth Republic Day -- Madagascar

International Mountain Day -- UN

Jashan-e Sadeh / Adar-Jashen -- Zoroastrian/Parsi (a mid-winter fire ceremony for purification; date approximate)

National Day / Republic Day -- Burkina Faso

National Noodle Ring Day

Nose-Scrambling and Hair-Hiking Events -- Fairy Calendar

Pampanga Day -- Pampanga Province, Philippines

Remembrance Day of Llywelyn II -- Wales (death anniversary of Llywelyn the Last, the last native-born Prince of Wales, killed in battle in 1282)

St. Damasus' Day (Patron of archaeologists)

St. Pens' Day (Patron of Llanberis, Wales)

Tango Day -- Buenos Aires, Argentina (birth anniversary of both Julio de Caro and Carlos Gardel)

Anniversaries Today:

Unicef is established, 1946
Edward VIII abdicates, 1936
Indiana becomes the 19th US State, 1816

Birthdays Today:

Rider Strong, 1979
Gary Dourdan, 1966
Curtis Williams, 1962
Jermaine Jackson, 1954
Ken Wahl, 1953
Susan Seidelman, 1952
Teri Garr, 1949
Brenda Lee, 1944
John Kerry, 1943
Donna Mills, 1943
Rita Moreno, 1931
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1918
Carlo Ponti, 1913
Naguib Mahfouz, 1911
Marjorie H. Buell, 1904
Fiorello LaGuardia, 1882
Annie Jump Cannon, 1863
Robert Koch, 1843

Debuting/Premiering Today:

"Magnum, PI"(TV), 1980

Today in History:

Honoratus, the first known Prefect of the City of Constantinople, takes office, 359
Llywelyn the Last (born c. 1228) the last native Prince of Wales, is killed at Cimeri, 1282
The Aurora Borealis is seen from New England by English settlers for the first time, 1719
The first newspaper on Curacao is published, the Curacao Gazette & Commercial Advertiser, 1812
Nitrous oxide is used in dental work for the first time in Hartford, Connecticut, 1844
Boston's Bijou Theatre becomes the first American theater lit exclusively by electricity, premiering Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe" as its first performance, 1882
The New Zealand Parliament Buildings are almost completely destroyed by fire, 1907
Color moving pictures are demonstrated in Madison Square Garden, 1909
The Boll Weevil Monument is dedicated in Enterprise, Alabama, 1919
The British Parliament enacts the Statute of Westminster 1931, establishing legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Irish Free State, Dominion of Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa, 1931
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, takes his last drink and enters treatment for the last time, 1934
Arthur Lucas, convicted of murder, is the last person to be executed in Canada, 1962
Apollo 17 becomes the sixth and last Apollo mission to land on the Moon, 1972
The Kyoto Protocol opens for signature, 1997
The People's Republic of China joins the World Trade Organization, 2001


  1. An interesting post. I don't know if kids are greedier today than in times past. I need to think about this some more. Take care.

  2. I think kids are more entitlement minded now. They want something they figure they should get whatever it is they want. It's about teaching them and that's lacking in many families. Not in your family though. Remember, I love your kids.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  3. Great post! I just assumed kids are more greedy these days, but now i must rethink! :)

  4. I'm gonna fill my kid's stockings with an orange, penny and a pair of mittens just to see their reactions. This could by sinister and fun!

  5. Very thoughtful post, Mimi. I think you touched on some truths, here. We as parents definitely set the pace for our kids' "greed." And those of us who promote charity over acquisition yield kids with different outlooks than those of us who promote the "gimmies."

  6. I have no idea if kids are greedier, per se. When I asked Santa for things, I generally asked for items like new sneakers, or toys. Like you said, I had most of the "basics" covered, (and wasn't wild about mittens). The funny thing is, one of my favorite things was Santa dropping a little bag either in my stocking (usually) or under the tree, with peanuts, a few chocolates, a candy cane, and one or two oranges. And this would probably be a "okay, why?" for kids now. I suppose that 50 some years from now, the kids will be considered filled with avarice for what they ask Santa for. (And I am trying to decide if it is good or bad that I don't know what a few of the items on the second list are!)


  7. I think some kids are greedier- and they learned it from their parents. Others are kind and thoughtful because they learned to be that way from their parents. It's all in how we're brought up.

  8. i think we are responsible for the culture we have created...its mind blowing...having two kids of my own, we dont even try to compete or keep up...our boys know as well that they are not going to get the $300 cell phone...its the way we live you know...and we teach them in how we live...

    congrats on the potw over at hilary's

  9. You make the argument well. I was appalled when I saw the two lists, but you convinced me that it isn't as cut and dried as it first appeared. Still, I think it's a damn shame that some kids (certainly not all) have it put in their heads that they cannot be happy unless they have the same gadgets as their peers. As always, child or adult, the happiest among us are those who make the most of what they've been given, whether the latest thing or 'only' a necessity.

  10. I think that kids need less and thus want more interesting stuff. Greed is a difficult term, is it not. Congrats on your POTW!


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