(Ok, not much... but hang with me here)
I, as I have mentioned previously, live in Palm Springs. I'm constantly surrounded by people with money. I'm not just talking a minivan and a house in the suburbs type of money... I'm talking MONEY.
It's not that uncommon to see a Ferrari or a Lamborghini at the grocery store. Noticeable, but not uncommon. There are more Mercedes and Jaguars than there are hoopty-rides in our average parking lot here, lets just say.
I actually grew up in a family with money. My Dad is a small business owner for a long standing and prestigious flower shop here in Palm Springs, my mom just traded her Escalade for something smaller, and they live in a very nice (but modest) home in a nice quiet neighborhood with manicured lawns galore.
My school had more rich kids in it than poor, kids who would drive Mercedes to school and throw giant, catered parties on the weekends.
I never liked those kids. Even back then, I knew somehow that poor people had it made.
After school, I would ride the bus from sparkly, posh Palm Springs all the way to the seedier town right next door called Desert Hot Springs. Kids rode their bikes in the street, and no one seemed to have a dad, and if they did, they didn't want to have one.
The dinginess attracted me in some strange way. It was more REAL than what I was used to. People were friends because they liked each other, not because their mothers' were friends or because they threw the biggest parties or because they both drove the same color Mercedes or any other status-obsessed reason.
The status-whores had always pissed me off.
Here were real people. Families loved and sacrificed for one another, friends would (and sometimes did) die for one another, the kids explored and played together on second hand bikes in the street and oftentimes didn't come in until dark.
The police roamed the street, after dark you would hear arguments ringing through the streets or the sounds of lovemaking coming from a dirty RV parked on the side of the road. It was ugly, but in all it's ugliness there was a real beauty. The beauty of the human struggle to survive. Maybe never to come out on top, but to come out alive, with your sanity and loved ones intact.
I've seen the struggles women have had against drug addiction, coming out clean on the other side, getting their kids back from the state and becoming an inspiration for those who still suffer.
I've seen an old man park by a food bank near Christmas, giving out envelopes with $100 bills and leaving before anyone knew what they had gotten.
I've seen families who have nothing... but feel they have everything they need because they have each other.
I've seen friends become family because they never had anyone else.
The people with money that I know, and will always know... they aren't happy. Mrs. Rich Woman takes her credit cards and buys some new shoes because she's feeling empty. Mr. Rich Man gives his kids stiff hugs and a Jaguar for their birthday because that's how he shows love. Little Rich Boy and Girl put their hand out to get love from Daddy's wallet and go on with their stiff empty lives and their expensive private educations and become what they've always known.
And Mrs. Rich Woman is in therapy and prescriptions up to her Brazilian wax-job.
And Mr. Rich Man has a mistress that makes him feel the way poor working class joes feel all the time.
And Little Rich Boy and Girl throw expensive parties and race their fast cars and get into the acceptable amount of trouble until they go to the acceptable expensive college and become their rich, miserable parents.
So don't pity me with my welfare Christmas.
I may not have chosen how bad things have gone in the past couple years, but my kids are going to shit themselves with happiness over the $60 worth of toys we broke ourselves getting. My friends are going to love the bevy of homemade cookies they're getting for presents. Our Charlie Brown Christmas tree with dollar store ornaments looks awesome and the kids just can't leave it alone for one second. We'll stress a little, the way everyone does when they've overspent money, time, energy and emotion. My hubby and I will argue so loud that the neighbors will take notice, and then we'll make love so loud that they'll knock on the wall to shut us up.
Because this is real. And we are happy.