A New Year highlights the gaps between the generations

Do children appreciate all they get for Christmas?
Do children appreciate all they get for Christmas?

It can be quite a challenge facing up to a new year. What can you expect from it? Do you have any great plans to improve your lot? Or are you quite happy as you are, despite tons of advice coming lately from all corners about why the older generation should downsize (to make way for bigger homes for the young).

I’m always amused about why others should think retirees need advice on how to spend their money. Do we need advice at all on anything given that most of us have survived this far without going bankrupt? Don’t we pay our bills on time, make sure we’re not driving around on baldy tyres and are polite, mostly, to the young who can only speak to us when they can disentangle themselves from whatever technological contraption they have clapped to their head? We don’t get nasty with supermarket staff and it’s never – ever – the elderly who are to be found mistreating animals.

One thing we do get as a new year begins is nostalgic. In fact I’ve felt it particularly since Christmas as I sat down one afternoon to think of all the family and friends we once shared the season with and who are now dead. To say I start a New Year feeling a bit bereft is partly true. Often I’ve longed for the chance to have even a few moments with a loved one who has passed on. Yet my generation does not sit around moaning about what could have been. We have done our best to improve society for the generation coming behind us. Yet we’ve been blamed for creating the boom and bust in the housing market in particular. And, oh yes, we’re blamed entirely for the current failings in the NHS.

Thankfully the president of the College of Emergency Medicine Dr Cliff Mann has finally spoken up to blame drunks for clogging up casualty wards requesting that tougher action needs to be taken to combat the “gratuitous consumption” of alcohol in Britain. God bless the man for doing us that important favour. Will it change anything? Maybe, one day, if we can get a government in power that knows what it’s doing. Mind you, reading the cabinet and other political papers from governments north and south revealed after 30 years one gets the impression that governments for years hadn’t a clue what they were doing. Had Margaret Thatcher got her way to redraw the border with the south, a suggestion she once put to the then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, we would probably be like Libya now.

Yet I feel sorry for the young, particularly those poor wee things who had their Christmas ruined after notorious computer hackers took down the Play Station and Xbox online networks on Christmas Day. By all accounts most of them were in tears, having ‘their worst Christmas ever’ as one parent was quoted. Well, I haven’t a notion what the Play Station and Xbox networks are. But I can’t ever remember having a childhood Christmas ruined because Santa wasn’t able to leave what I might have expected. Those Christmases after the Second World War were contented ones because people were just so happy to be alive and not under the boot of the Nazis. We felt blessed if we got a filled stocking. Today the young feel deprived if they don’t get the pillowcase filled with the most expensive toys imaginable. Today’s young throwaway generation are being taught nothing about values or how to survive in a crisis. Why should the baby boomer generation, which has worked its socks off for decades, get the blame for the moral and spiritual deprivation facing these young people?

This next decade will be a challenging one for all of us, especially since it’s now revealed the economy isn’t doing as well as the government claimed. I still think my generation will survive it better than most.