Another Day, Another Holiday
I headed to a home improvement big box store a couple of weeks ago to find some fall mums for my porch. When I walked in I saw that employees were busy putting Christmas displays together--right next to the Halloween displays that I'd noticed a week or so earlier. And, since we live in the South, the next two aisles still held patio furniture and lawn mowers. It seemed discordant to me--in the middle of October, Santa waved at a witch, who towered over a sale on barbecue grills. Once again, I questioned our culture's priorities, and our obsession with the commercial side of everything.
Then today I read that a National Retail Foundation survey found that Americans spent about 8.4 billion dollars on Halloween this year. Of that amount, 3.1 billion was spent on costumes, 2.5 billion on candy, and 2.4 billion on decorations. Yes, you read that correctly, we're talking BILLIONS of dollars. I shudder to think what we're going to spend on Christmas.
By contrast, in another recent study reported by Child Trends, "in 2011, more than twice as many households with children than in 1996 had less than $2 per day in cash income. Yet the percentage of poor children whose households receive cash assistance has declined dramatically, from 58 percent in 1996 to 17 percent in 2014." Gary's and my experience with the Christian Assistance Network (CAN) bears that out. Of the hundreds of intakes CAN processed in the years we served on the board, fewer than five of our clients actually had cash assistance.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't celebrate Halloween or other holidays. I enjoyed giving candy to the neighbor children who knocked on my door last week. I made my oldest granddaughter's costume (one of the Schuyler sisters from the musical Hamilton--who would have guessed that one?). I look forward to buying simple gifts for my grandchildren at Christmas. I just want to raise awareness of the disconnect that is so evident to me when I read this data.