Retail Slump, Spoiled Kids and Rush Limbaugh

This holiday season was the weakest since at least 1969. A report came out today from the AP Wire stating discount giant Wal-Mart (the world’s largest retailer) reported smaller sales gains than expected in December. Health and wellness items fueled sales while electronics remained solid. Clothing and jewelry aren’t selling. In addition to Wal-Mart’s woes, Macy’s is closing 11 stores which will put about 960 employees out of work. Here’s a list of the store closings.

From the wealthy to the middle class to the lower income, everyone is cutting back. It really sucks because I finally thought this would be the year we’d get to buy our first yacht. And by “yacht” I mean “boat” and by “boat” I mean “rubber ducky for the tub.”

Last month I was quoted in an article, “How do you tell your kids you need to downsize Christmas?” and it got a lot of national attention. Even Rush Limbaugh himself had to discuss it on his show. He read my quote and then made some backhanded comment about it. Shocking, right? You can read the transcripts here.

Anyway, I do think it’s okay to spoil your kids, even if times are tough. But I think the definition of “spoil” means certain things to certain people. I don’t spoil my kids as in letting them run around like crazy maniacs without rules or discipline or manners. That’s not what I’m talking about.

This year we skimped on our Christmas presents to make sure the kiddos got theirs first. And nobody got ridiculous, expensive, anti-functional gifts that would be enjoyable for all of 10 minutes. I found cute toys on sale at Marshall’s and Tuesday Morning. In reality, my children are small so they don’t notice if they got more or less gifts than usual. But they LOVE opening presents – just like most adults – so why not let them have fun? We bought just as many presents, but spent far less money. And before we brought one new toy into the house we donated a lot of toys and clothes to local charities.

I find it funny that everyone wants to chime in about topics like spoiling your children (and Jennifer Aniston v. Angelina). Even people who don’t have children of their own. Unless you have kids, I don’t think you can really understand what what it means to be a parent. How it feels in your heart. How it completely transforms your life, your soul and spirit. Even the most superficial, self-absorbed, shopaholic parent would make sacrifices. That’s what love is all about. Did we learn nothing from the movie Cliffhanger?

My answer to Rush is simple. Yes, it’s important to spoil your kids even if they don’t know they’re being spoiled. And yes, I do know what a real economic downturn is. Thanks for your concern.