I've been thinking a lot about wealth recently, and not just because newspeople keep talking about the disappearance of it. Mostly my oldest son has started to ask a lot of questions, "Are those people poor?" "Why are they poor?" "Are we poor?" My favorite was what he said when he saw the empty fridge before grocery shopping--"We are so poor now, Mama!"
I also overheard, a few months ago, someone who owns a multi-million dollar house, and a vacation home, and takes trips all around the world, call themselves "middle class." If that's middle class, than what are the rest of us?
The last thing, the one that really got me going, was listening to presidential candidates go on and on about who would do the best things for the middle class. I realized that a huge change had happened, and only since I was a kid (I think). Political candidates, especially Democratic ones, used to talk about what was best for the poor. I'm not saying that they, in actuality, did anything to help the poor, but they at least thought that's where their priorities should lie, and it was what people wanted to hear.
But now, even the most liberal man ever elected president only talked about what was good for the middle class. He was arguing with the Republican candidate over who was going to do more for the middle class! Once I realized this change, I began to think about the wealth categories that the Bible has. Jesus often talks about the "poor" and the "rich," but "middle class" is never mentioned. The apostles also talk about rich and poor, and the Old Testament law is filled with exhortations to think of the poor.
Now, does a truly middle class American look more like a poor person or more like a rich person? I would say rich. In fact, I think "middle class" could even be defined as "rich, but not as rich as that guy." We're always told that it's healthy for societies to have a large middle class, but what this really means is that there is not such a striking difference between the rich and the poor, and this is (thankfully) what we mostly see in our country.
The saddest thing that happens when we only care about the welfare of the middle class is that we've put ourselves in a position to ignore a huge portion of the Bible. The rich are repeatedly warned and exhorted not to forget the poor. Well, if we're middle class, then that doesn't mean us--it means that rich guy over there!
So ends the explanation as to what I answer my son when he asks if we're rich, "Of course we are!" I say. God has blessed us with so much--so much, in fact, that we have enough to share with the poor. If that's not the definition of rich, then what is?
I took The Elder and Segundus on an epic walk today. It was more of a "Tour of Aptos" where we saw all of the sites, but they would probably point to the donuts and the beach as the most important highlights. I had given up walking with them for a while without my husband, mostly because we live at the top of a hill. Walks would always sound great on a warm, sunny day, with the beach only a few blocks away, so we would pack up the stroller and set off. We would walk out the gate; cheerful, grinning, and laughing. However, the return trip would inevitably involve me pushing a giant stroller straight up a mountain, sweating and exhausted, while two children cried and moaned about how hot, hungry, tired, thirsty, etc......they were.
Walking without a stroller was a better idea, but they were still too little to make it home on their own. We did family walks, so they could take turns getting rides on Papa's shoulders, but I rarely took them out during the week anymore.
With Leif starting kindergarten next year I began to realize that my favorite childhood memories involve that blessed, free time before I started school. Every free moment I am now determined to do some playing--hiking, beach trips, poking around in the woods days...and to top it all off my children can now take long walks and come home cheerful and happy!
We have now entered an exciting new phase of parenting--a stroller-less, happy children, hiking and exploring time! It all started off today with a plan to walk across the railroad bridge to do a bank errand and get some "treats." As we strolled high above Aptos Creek with only a single wire as a "barrier," my sons liked to talk about the dead body that was found down there a few weeks ago. I wanted to use it as a lesson about how high bridges are dangerous, but they mostly wanted to talk about the dead guy. Segundus asked excitedly if the police cut off his head and put it in their big pile after they found him. I assured him that they probably didn't (but I'm still curious where the "pile of heads" picture came from). The whole conversation had a very "Stand By Me" sense about it.
We did our bank errand and the boys were desperate for donuts, so we set off up the mountain. On the way, we passed over the creek once more, and the boys had to poke their heads through the fence and ask me about dead bodies again.
The Little Donut Shop on Top of the Hill is a quaint place. It's the kind of donut shop you imagine your grizzled great-grandfather named Jethro to go, and sit outside all day smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. It resembles this type of place perfectly, except in one, small detail--the prices. They remind you that you're still in California, and still in a resort town by the beach (even though there are still grizzled old men in there drinking coffee, but they're not allowed to smoke cigarettes anymore). I paid a small fortune for 3 donuts and bad coffee, but the boys love it, and the owner loves them enough to give them free mini cinnamon rolls once they're done. The other patrons of the shop were discussing where they would fly if they owned their own aircraft, whether or not winds are traveling clockwise or counter-clockwise over Monterey Bay, various government conspiracies involving mysterious seismic booms, and temperature thermoclines that make Santa Cruz warmer than Aptos. It's a fun place.
Since The Elder insisted that two donuts had given him extra energy, we crossed the freeway once more to frolic in the fields above the state park and beach. There's a massive empty lot (which always equals "fun" in the kid mind), but what makes it better than any ordinary empty lot is that it ends in a cliff down to the ocean. They picked flowers, and then pretended they were storm troopers or lions, and then we headed down the "secret path" to the beach. Segundus told me that this was the "dark woods" and several times their way was blocked by a branch or stick or two. This, of course, necessitated them getting down on their backs and sliding, military-style, under the stick. Most of these sticks were an eighth of an inch or so in diameter, and lay about 3-4 inches off the ground, but....you know.
This brought us to the sand which cannot be passed without playing in. They found various pieces of trash to entertain them and then pretended that a log was their pet, giant alligator. Then we all had to get drinks and bathroom breaks before we headed up the cliff to our house. Traditional stops here include: the fire hydrant with lots of dog poop (to be grossed out by), dirty cars that park close to the sidewalk (to run hands along), and an abandoned front end loader that has sat, unexplainably right outside a multi-millionaire dollar mansion for sale, ever since we've lived around here. At this point, as we were halfway up Mt. Everest, The Elder told me that the energy from his donuts was beginning to wear off. Still, very little whining ensued; it was all minor until Segundus tripped, smacked his chin, and bit his tongue on the curb. Thankfully we were within sight of home, and hurried there. Our very last treat of the day was to see our neighbor drive by in his race car, out for a drive (he owns a Ferrari).
Thus ended our "Tour of Aptos" with one happy Mama, one happy kid, and one bloody chin.
My husband made me a margarita. The boys thought it looked tasty and asked for their own. My husband said, "Sure, I'll make you some virgin ones." Segundus looked at The Elder and said with intense excitement and happiness: "Leif, we each get our own virgins!"
So I've been having fun putting together a family tree. It contains some very interesting historical and mythological characters. So for those of you who enjoy reading certain long portions of I and II Chronicles, check this out:
Odin of Asgard (215)
begat Beldeg of Scandi (243)
begat Brond of Scandinavia (271)
begat Frithogar of Saxony (299)
begat Freawin of Saxony (327)
begat Wig of Saxony (355)
begat Gewis of Saxony (383)
begat Esla of Saxony (411)
begat Elesa of Saxony (439)
begat Cerdic of Saxony (407)
begat Creoda of Wessex (493)
begat Cynric, King of Wessex (525)
begat Cealwine, King of Wessex (547)
begat Cuthwine of Wessex (584)
begat Cuthwulf of Wessex
begat Ceolwald of Wessex (622)
begat Ceured of Wessex (644)
begat Ingild of Wessex (680)
begat Eoppa of Wessex (680)
begat Eafa of Wessex (732)
begat Eahlmund, King of Kent (758)
begat Egbert the Great, King of Wessex (775)
begat Ethelwulf, King of Wessex (857)
begat Alfred the Great, King of Mercia (849)
begat Edward II (870)
begat Edmund I (921)
begat Edgar the Peaceful, King of England (943)
begat Ethelred II, the Unready (968)
begat Goda of England (1014)
begat Ralph, Earl of Hereford (1003)
begat Harold, Baron of Sudelay (1051)
begat Robert, Baron de Sudelay (1085)
begat Robert de Sudelay (1125)
begat Sybil de Ewys (1165)
begat Robert de Tregoz (1190)
begat John de Tregoz (1222)
begat Sybil Tregoz (1271)
begat Mabidia de Grandson (1294)
begat Catherine Pateshull (1300)
begat John de Tudenham (1346)
begat Robert de Tudenham (1372)
begat Margaret Tudenham (1404)
begat Thomas Bedingfeld (1428)
begat Edmond Bedingfeld (1450)
begat Agnes Bedingfeld (1457)
begat Christopher Browne II (1482)
begat Christopher Browne III (1523)
begat Thomas Browne (1557)
begat Abraham Browne (1607)
begat Jonathon Brown (1635)
begat William Brown (1684)
begat Isaac Brown (1711)
begat Isaac Brown (1739)
begat John Brown (1780)
begat Timothy Brown (1811)
begat Isaac Brown (1836)
begat John Frank Brown (1858)
begat Kenneth James Brown (1909)
begat Kenneth John Brown (1935)
begat John Allen Brown (1953)
begat ME! (1979)
From a pagan god to my kids in only 62 generations!
Unfortunately for him, though, Odin isn't the oldest relative I've got. That distinction goes to somebody named Clodius II. I don't know what year he was born in, but to give you an idea, Clodius' great-great-great grandson died in 113 A.D.
After spending the last several days searching and cataloging ancient French, Saxon, and Norwegian royalty, the Norse are by far the most entertaining. Who else has names like: Ingjald the Wicked? or The Mighty Olof? or Ragnarsson Sigurd the WormEyed? or Moelda the Fat (who happened to be a queen)?
The "new" and "improved" Lady Sybil blog may contain posts my husband comes up with, so maybe it should be re-named Moist von Lipwig. That name is a little scary, since it was given by "doting if unwise parents."
So stand by for a possible name change, but if you were once a loyal reader, sit back and enjoy.