Around this time of year the family budget is stretched.Â Paying off school fees, and preparing for Pesach make even the less modest households pick and choose between needs and wants.Â In this age of rising domestic costs (fuel, mortgage rates, food, to name a few), the cost of being Jewish is a real issue.
Perhaps it is a minority of households that today have luxury of spending what they like, and when they like.Â But the working family of today is very much the working poor.
The unfortunate calculation that led to this post was a request for a birthday party gift of $10 per child.Â Times that by 30 children in a class, and times that by two or three kids at school, and the cost of sending your kids to parties can be as high as $1,000 per annum.Â Throw in a few hundred to host a party of your own, and all of a sudden it is big business.Â Â Not many budgets can sustain this.
There has to be a better way!Â Apparently there was a time when a kids birthday party could be a few games in the park with a cake, or a back yard frenzy with cheap entertainment courtesy of Dad.Â Sadly no longer.Â Professional entertainment is a must.Â It only costs $160 an hour for a teenage kid to dress as a Clown and blow bubbles with laundry detergent.Â If you can’t manage that, a trip to adventure world or some other facility with an exhorbitant entry fee is the only acceptable alternative.Â Designer balloons, catered lunch, and a themedÂ recreation of Disneyland seem to be the only way to go.Â
Wouldn’t it be nice if birthday’s were rescued from their escalating industry growth, and returned to their real purpose of sharing friendship.Â How about putting social interaction ahead of statements of social status, especially for young impressionable kids.
And don’t even start me on the abusive way in which Bar/Bat Mitzvah are celebrated.
We have in our community a selection of families, including the “haves” and the “have nots”.Â Sadly, some kids are left reeling due toÂ no fault of their own, and a little more modesty in planning some parties would go a long way towards ensuring that nobody needs to miss out.Â