Archive for the ‘money’ Category


January 11, 2012

(Title of post from my college off-campus experience, where someone was camping and spent much time and effort, comically, trying to find fuel tanks for the trip, which I remember being called something like “bumblos” but I’m not certain.)

New Year’s is a big deal in my family.  One of the things that happen is the young bow in respect for the elders and wishes for luck, and the elders give the young some cash money.  There’s also a lot of eating of traditional foods and thinking of the year past and the year ahead and the dead and all that.  The important thing, though, especially to the young, is the money.

My fail (my first of the year, go me!) was that I forgot that.  We were on our way back from DC, on Saturday, the day before New Year’s, literally on the NJ Turnpike, and I’m suddenly thinking, “oh, crap, I forgot New Year’s money.”  W and I have been elders since we had kids.  Maybe since we got married?  (It seems dumb, but I should remember when I turned into an elder, right?)

Anyway, I worry until we get to my parents’ house.   I ask my mom if it’s okay to not give.  She says it’s okay, but W notes that it’s never okay to be those people who don’t have New Year money.   I ask her how much to give, and she says it’s up to me.  I say, “$2?” and she says that’s cheap and makes a face.  So no money is okay, but $2 is too cheap.  Go figure.

I ask my dad if he’s got any spare small bills.  (He used to have lots because he ran a store.)  No.  My brother’s not around, so he’s no help.  So W and I strategize and we go over to the local strip mall and proceed to break a number of 20 dollar bills to get enough singles and fives to give away the next day.  W called it “shaking down the immigrants and natives.”

We get back to my parents’ house.  I check with my mother about the number of kids showing up.  At least 27.  Damn.  Still not enough money.  (Although we are well fortified with single cans of soda, granola bars, battery packs, single serve chip bags and yogurt cups.  I felt like one of those people passing counterfeit bills.)  Although my mother kindly reminds me that if I don’t have enough fives, I can give tens.  Everybody loves tens.  (Sure they do.  I’m not giving away that much money – mostly because I don’t have it.)  My brother shows up, and he’s got some fives.  (He’s really sympathetic because he’s done the exact same thing, but because it was before my parents retired, they had the money.  Then I make a threat to take the money people give my kids and give that away.  My brother laughs, because he’s done that too.)  Then the next morning, my mother coughs up $20 in singles.

The lucky money thing goes well enough.  Some people didn’t show.  We’ve got some singles left over.  Oh, thank goodness.  Safe.

Then some people show up at my mother’s house after the big event.  There go the rest of the money – and still, my mother’s going on about how I should stop counting and just give it away – which is easy for her to say.  I just didn’t want to give an unequal amount of money when it’s obvious that I’m counting out singles, and I might not have enough anyway.  Which I do.  Barely.

I should just take my brother’s advice and if I’m even thinking about being in the vicinity around New Year’s get a whack of money and just leave it with my parents.  It’ll be so much easier than the night of the bumble-o’s.

I told this story to a friend recently, and she thought it was funny, until we told her how many kids.  That brought it all into perspective for her.   Because 27 is a lot of kids.   Then she told the story of how she went to buy the red envelopes for New Year’s money (she’s a long-time Yankee recently married a Canadian-American-Chinese guy) and was thrilled at how many there were in the pack.  Because she could use the envelopes for year and years until they were all used up.  Until she realized that they all had the year on them.  I laughed, because if she were really ethnic, that wouldn’t matter.

Anyway, that’s my New Year story.  Here’s to hoping your New Year goes a little more smoothly than that evening did for us!