I pondered about writing a Christmas blog with meaning.
It’s well known that the holidays are unbearable for some and joyous for others. The same can be said for any day or event of the year, yet it seems to exacerbate during the Christmas season.
Truthfully, it has always been that way.
Whether the reasons for a downcast spirit stem from past memories that darken the heart, or from personal circumstances involving health, finances, or the loss of a loved one, there have always been two holiday and two non-holiday worlds.
Never were those two worlds more obvious than during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Because of the stock market crash, bank failures, and drought, thousands of wealthy and middle-class people became poor overnight. Consumerism slowed to a crawl. Fewer products were manufactured. Jobs were lost.
People were starving, out of work, and homeless. Churches, missions, private organizations, and the government set up soup kitchens and bread lines in the cities to feed the multitudes. Cardboard boxes became home to some, while others meandered aimlessly in shock and emotional illness.
Back then, some folks had such a polished sense of pride *the good kind,* they found it
tremendously difficult to “beg” food by standing in food lines. Yet the alternative might mean starvation for themselves and their families. Certain ones found it unbearably embarrassing and moved to rural areas to live off the land.
Was that any better? Usually not. The poverty of the people who made their living from the earth was sometimes unfathomable.
Conversely, there were entertainers and athletes who prospered greatly during the Depression.
James Cagney, for instance, earned the equivalent of $40,000 a week in 1933.
With hits like “In the Mood,” “String Of Pearls,” and “Moonlight Serenade,” Glenn Miller and his band had high-dollar success on the radio and in the movies. His salary of nearly $20,000 a week is indicative that big money was “out there,” during the 1930s.
Likewise, the Great Depression didn’t harm legendary Babe Ruth. His $80,000 a year salary (more than a million dollars today) was $5,000 more than that of the President of the United States.
Many of the established American super-rich families didn’t lose their wealth during those perilous times, families like the Getty’s, Rockefeller’s and Kennedy’s.
The survivalist entrepreneurs arose to surf the dire circumstances and grow rich – people like Howard Hughes, Michael J. Cullen and the Hess Brothers, to name a few.
The two worlds of Christmas in the 1930s were physical polar opposites, but what about in spirit and truth? Did depression, anxiety, and a sad life envelope only the poor and disadvantaged? Would people, as Victor Hugo espoused, rise to great moral and emotional heights if given enough opportunity and money?
Perhaps the best example of NO to that question is Barbara Woolworth Hutton. Though she was given a lavish debutante ball in 1930 and was one of the wealthiest women in the world, she was married seven times. None of her marriages lasted more than three years, and her only son was the victim of a bitter custody battle. Envied by all who encountered her, this wealthy beauty took refuge in alcohol, drugs and playboys. Her son died before her, and she died of a heart attack at age 66.
The woman who had everything had nothing.
A paradox of opposite worlds…
…often coming down to choices.
I’m choosing to be happy this holiday season.
How about you?