Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving in a Recession: The Redux


Confession: my parents are pretty rich. Not in a "everyone that lives in America is richer than most of the world" rich but "holy crap, that's your house?" rich. For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while you may have already guessed that. Why else would my Dad constantly give me small sums of money so that he could continue to pass judgment on my life? How did I get so awful with money in the first place and end up in this mess? I don't think growing up I ever felt "rich," however, since I was surrounded by equally if not richer folk.

So with that important piece of background information, I bring you my Thanksgiving holiday redux. Boyfriend and I spent our first Thanksgiving together (last year we were dating but he was out of the country). Miles were driven, cats were traumatized, a ten year high school reunion was attended, and the George Washington Bridge was crossed three times in as many days.

This Thanksgiving was the first time I didn't spend the entire holiday with my own family and therefore the first time I realized just how different the holiday can be with other families. As embarrassing as it sounds, I grew incredibly homesick when I realized that there were no mini-quiches, linen napkins, chandeliers and mulled cider. Instead I was treated to folding chairs and homemade pie. Boyfriend and I even went out for dinner on Wednesday with his parents and they made him split the bill! That sort of thing would never happen in my family.

After visiting Boyfriend's parents we visited my family and learned that talking about money is now apparently allowed despite its previous ban in polite conversation. Here is what I learned:

  • My mom claims to have lost "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in her retirement accounts. I asked her if she was exaggerating but she insisted she wasn't.
  • My sister and her new husband are leaving NYC to live in the suburbs in an apartment owned by my parents for next to nothing. This is quite possibly the only financially responsible move my sister has ever made.
  • A friend (age 30) was laid off from her job in the financial sector.
  • Another friend (age 31) was laid off from her dot com job, despite spending $35k to get pregnant (it worked!) and now is forced to put her apartment on the market.
  • A friend's mother who works for the financial industry has stored $10,000 under her mattress in case of emergencies. This is no joke. She's the richest woman I know and if she's this scared then holy crap!
  • My brother works retail and unfortunately they are cutting his hours.
So lots of financial gossip was shared over the course of a few days. Being with my family is great and I love them very much but they're very much into proper form and etiquette and I feel bad that Boyfriend has to be on his best behavior around them. They're also quite arrogant - my Dad bragging that while he read somewhere that the average family spends $40 on Thanksgiving dinner, my mother spent $400.

That was my Thanksgiving. My parents warned it would be a "lean Christmas" but I don't believe them. I don't need any presents but I can't imagine my mom not buying tons of things anyway. Sigh.

15 comments:

Chicky said...

If they are so rich, instead of giving you $100 here and there tehy should give you sum of money. Also tyey should pay for your college loan too.

Sallie's Niece said...

Yeah that would be nice. They paid most of my college expenses but law school was all loans in my name. I don't want to take any more from them than I currently do in order to be more independent. Besides they have one more kid to put through college and their own retirement to worry about.

Chicky said...

I see. but I thougght they were rich.

Sallie's Niece said...

Well it's all relative. They certainly have a lot of assets and spend a lot of money but I have no idea how much they actually have because money is such a taboo subject in my family. It's very frustrating!

Chicky said...

oooh I see that makes sense.Because for example my boss he is "rich" I know it because every quarter he sends 25K to each son and daughter he has. In fact I write the checks :)

Sallie's Niece said...

Oh wow, they're not that rich! Just really buy nice stuff and live in a fancy house mostly.

Daizy said...

Your post made me laugh. Thanksgiving is definitely one of those times when we realize that our families have different customs. I went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving when I was in college and it didn't even feel like Thaksgiving. All of the food was different. It made me homesick but now I think it is neat to see what other people do. I also realize now that most of my family's traditional food comes from a can or requires minimal heating before serving. I admit it, I love cranberry sauce shaped like a can :)

Sallie's Niece said...

My mom makes both the canned cranberry sauce and the real cranberries and I so prefer the canned too!

Anonymous said...

I sort of wonder that since your parents are "well off" that this is one reason you have had a problem managing your money? IE- budgeting and money management was not a high priority in your family. Don't take it as an insult, I just read a lot of blogs were people around your age have a lot of money issues because finances were not taught at home.

Sallie's Niece said...

I totally agree! First let me clarify, they are not Donald Trump kind of rich but they never taught me much about money. When I first had to buy groceries for myself I pretty much freaked out.

Anny said...

Wait so your parents are rich but your dad hasn't replaced his tooth crown? :(

Sallie's Niece said...

LOL, never thought of that. I think it has partly to due with the pain. I am getting a lot of bad reactions from using the term "rich." I guess it means different things to different people. They certaintly spend a lot more money than I can fathom spending when I'm their age. But they can be really cheap sometimes too!

Miss M said...

Parents of all financial backgrounds can fail at teaching their kids finance, but I do think that kids raised in a wealthy family have a different financial mindset. Mr M is broke as a joke but was raised in an uber-wealthy family, mansion, live in maids, etc. He was groomed for a life that never materialized (black sheep of the family). It's hard to put into words but his feelings towards money are very different from mine, I came from a middle class family.

undercover vixen said...

i totally get where you are coming from. I think my parents might be considered rich too. I mean on this trip they spent ridiculous amounts on jewelry and since they don't live here they have no debt.
They give me money now and then too and pay for things they think they have responsibility for (like my school loans) but I would NEVER tell them about my CC debt.
They would want to pay it off b/c they dont like the idea of debt but then they would control every aspect of my life and I would probably have to send them a expense sheet weekly or something.

undercover vixen said...

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