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Say 'Enough' to 'Life Inflation.' This graphic is based on an early 20th-century Ellen Clapsaddle design.
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Written by Shelia Race for Family Christmas OnlineTM

Say "Enough" to Life Inflation

We are all familiar with the term "inflation." An item is almost certain to be priced more next year than its current listed price. Our attitude until this recession was: Buy now. It will cost more later. Of course, next year there will be a new and improved version. It becomes a vicious cycle that empties our wallets and overfills our homes.

But itís not just prices that inflate. Itís our expectations and our standards. What once made us feel happy, wealthy and successful now isnít "enough." Our upward climb just keeps getting steeper with no summit in sight. A few years ago, Paul's sister Tess Hoffman came up with a name for this phenomenon: "life inflation." Why is it we accept this continual "raising of the bar" in every area of our lives?

Paul and I both had parents whose families had struggled through the depression. They grew and canned, raised or hunted most of the food they ate. The "cash crop" was used to pay the taxes, buy shoes for winter and to buy luxuries like sugar and coffee. Having "enough" was a good year. Then they replanted in spring and began again.

When did that change? When goods became cheaper and it was easier to buy everything we needed - and more? When credit cards displaced layaway as the means of assuring our family would have what they needed (or thought they needed)? When our own delight at our Christmas gifts faded in view of the more numerous and expensive gfts that our relatives or friends received?

As many of our generation have sought to simplify Christmas, we have asked ourselves many hard questions. Sometimes weíve given up our idealism because it was easier, made our children happy and quieted the discomfort we felt.

But in this year of massive unemployment, decimated retirement savings and rising health care costs, maybe itís time to re-think and re-adjust our inner barometer. Not just of what we spend and how much we do during the holidays but on what we perceive as a good life and what is "enough."

Are we as adults measured by our success? And is success another promotion with more money and benefits? Are we successful parents only if our children did more and got better grades and more awards this year than they did last year? Is our homeís happiness dependant on the renovations we did this year or the new furniture we purchased? Were our familiesí memories based on how much more we did than last year or if we vacationed somewhere more exotic or farther away?

Christmas letters ( which I love to receive!) often leave the impression that what we are, have or do is what makes us worthwhile. Sometimes itís just good to hear from folks, even if they Ďstaycationed,í had to replace a leaky roof and Johnnyís grades were just so-so. And if youíve lost a job this year, are struggling to pay the bills and Johnny spent his time on the ball field admiring daisies rather than catching fly balls, let me know that, too. Iíll empathize with you and pray for you and tell you little Johnny will turn out just fine.

We donít have to do more, buy more, get the promotion and have perfect children to be of worth. God loves us for who we are - His beloved children. And we ought to love and support each other.

Make this the year when you say "Enough!" I have enough for my family and enough to share-even if itís not much. I have a job even if itís not prestigious or well paying. We have a roof over our heads, a warm home and shoes on our feet. It is ENOUGH.

Say "No!" to life inflation and "Yes!" to life as it is in the here and now. Thatís when youíll notice the real gifts of Christmas and see the real needs we all share. To be loved, fed, and warm. The first gifts Jesus received from loving parents who knew success long before the Wise Men showed up with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

God grant you and your loved ones grace and a spirit of generosity and service this Christmas season.

Shelia Race, Family Christmas OnlineTM

If you have any corrections, comments, or additions you would like to make about this article or anything on our web site, please contact us and we will be very glad to hear from you. God bless - Paul and Shelia

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