So much talk about children in poverty today. I grew up in a poor family – six children and a father who sometimes struggled to find work. But it was a poverty of money, not a poverty of life. Dad ran chooks, grew veges, and never lost his own self-respect. My mum always had a pot of hot vegetable soup on the coal range when we arrived home, cold and wet, from school. Just about all our clothes were hand-me-downs, but I don’t remember ever feeling bad about that. We did snitch everything we could from the orchards on the way home from school, and even turnips out of the field, but we knew our parents were doing the best they could. Christmas meant a small present and maybe an orange in our stockings, and a big family get-together at my Grandparents.
We couldn’t afford to go on school trips or have lots of presents. There was no TV, only the radio, so we didn’t have shoved down our throats all the things we were missing out on. Advertising has a lot to answer for. Mum hated sewing, but made all of our clothes that weren’t handed down. Labels were unheard of.
But we did have a childhood that included fun, tree-huts, long grass, tobogganing down hillsides in cardboard boxes, Sunday-school picnics, and for me, most of all, reading. I loved school – all those wonderful books that there weren’t a lot of in our home – school journals, writing, warm classrooms.
Now I see around me children who seem to have so many ‘things’ in their lives, but not enough of the things that matter. When are we going to see that families are absolutely important – much more so than heaps of money. I just feel so sorry for these displaced children…
of the spirit
is what kills