(This was a 'Bay Book' column for Dec. 22, 2000)
There once was a day when visions of sugarplums danced in children's heads at the thought of Christmas. But that was another world, another time.
Today, their vision is ruled by Tommy Hilfiger brand clothes and Razor brand scooters, by PlayStations and Pokemon and Poo-Chi, oh my — so much "newfangled stuff," as one woman at the Bay County Council on Aging Senior Center put it this week, that parents trip over the items cast aside after a few minutes' diversion.
It wasn't always like that.
"For Christmas when we were kids, we might get an orange, an apple and a peppermint stick - and we loved it," said Betty Moore, 74, of Panama City. "Our children get so much that they don't appreciate things."
Moore said girls growing up now couldn't live like she had to — bathing in a creek, using an outhouse, cooking on a wood stove.
"We lived. We didn't have anything but the simple things," said Anna Boyarski, 83, of Panama City. "Today, the kids don't really enjoy what they have. They have toys scattered from one end of the house to another, but they don't enjoy it."
Boyarski suspected that such conspicuous consumption leaves people even less satisfied by life than those who grew up without.
"Are people more happy these days than we were with the little we had? I don't think so," Boyarski said. "Everybody wants to have the best. Nobody is really satisfied. In those days, they were thankful for whatever they had. Families stayed together and today they're scattered."
Hal Coggin, 81, of Panama City, said dissatisfaction would follow today's adults and children into their senior years.
"I think we, as seniors, enjoy life more than a young person will when they get to our age because they don't know what to do or how to appreciate stuff," he said.
"You can't buy friendship, and you can't buy happiness."