My Small Victory for a Middle Class American Family

I think we all know that money is tight for just about every middle class American family these days. When faced with an Obama economy, tighter budgets and increasing costs, middle-America has to find creative ways to “make do” as my family proved this past weekend.

As Halloween approaches neighborhoods across America are breaking out festive decorations and adorning their homes with all manner of scary paraphernalia. Competitions of sorts have driven some families to spend money they don’t have on new and improved extravagant decorations, and kids across America are learning to sacrifice imagination for store bought bragging rights. This is not the case for one Texas Family as Dad is “old school” and doesn’t believe in wasting money needed for food, fuel, and bills to spend on Halloween decorations. There’s a lot to be said for traditional American ingenuity and the memories it creates for families that make the effort to spend time together.

As soon as I sat down to pen my next article for the upcoming week I was once again jerked back into the realities of family life. “How come we don’t have anything like that? That’s cool!,” my 13 year old exclaimed as he looked across the street at our neighbor’s new electronic Halloween pumpkin. “Dad, if they’re not too expensive can we get something for the front lawn?” I responded: “I’m not spending money on that crap, why don’t you make something? Use your imagination.” Then I remembered it was my job to teach him the things that society didn’t want him to learn, and an idea popped into my head.

This is a picture of what was created when families with more sense than money spend time together. In case you can’t tell, we took a black sheet (didn’t have an old white one) some construction paper and glue and converted our blow up Christmas Santa into a hilarious Halloween lawn gnome. The empty egg carton in his hand was my idea. I was tempted to ditch it’s inclusion in our little mosaic for fear of having to explain the time honored tradition of egging as we used to call it back in my day but in the end I acquiesced to my devious instincts while warning the kids about the modern day perils of vandalism. In other words “NO EGGS WILL BE THROWN AT ANYBODY OR I’LL HAVE YOUR BUTTS! All day Saturday neighbors came by to laugh and comment at our creation and I think somebody even threw it out on the web somewhere. I hope it doesn’t turn into some viral political statement since our Santa runs a merit shop and didn’t vote for Obama.

For me and my family modern day struggles aren’t just about cash they include values. I believe you can’t teach your kids meaningful lessons by simply throwing out the plastic at the Walmart and heading to the golf course for a weekend 18. To the contrary that is exactly what’s wrong with our American families today. Sometimes you have to stop and participate in something dumb and spontaneous to create a tradition that might last for generations.

Every day I thank God that I was one of the Walt Disney/Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom generation when businesses were closed on Sunday and unselfish parenting created solid family values. I’m grateful for the blessings my kids have brought into my life and pray God will continue to grant me the patience to take the time to create memories before I become an old grouch and they plant me on the front lawn for a Halloween decoration.