There have been some discussions stemming from a woman in Utah who spent about thirty-two thousand dollars on a small child's birthday party. Themes of this type have a long history in the bloggernacle. Other groups have them too, such as concerns in Jewish quarters about six and seven figure bar mitzvah parties. There is even a television series.
But it made me think of going shopping for potato chips for a party at the house. As I was at check-out, the rail thin cashier was just staring at my purchases, almost in disbelief. She was new. I had less than forty dollars worth of junk food for the party. She was a Kurdish Iraqi refugee (the Albertsons was part of a program for integrating refugees).
She was having trouble imagining anyone spending that much money on such frivolous food. She had trouble as she rang me up, but got through it.
And I thought about it. About how my spending less than forty dollars for a party for people in the ward was so excessive it was almost beyond her comprehension, so new she was to America (and yes, over time her English got better and she adjusted more to what people were buying at the grocery store).
I've had times when thirty-five dollars worth of food would have been a major purchase. Times when I would not notice spending that much money. It seemed like a good cause at the time I bought what was basically an excess of junk food. I was buying what people wanted and expected, at a reasonable price, for a social time with a large number of people, who all enjoyed the evening.
But I have reflected a good deal since on how just as what others do may seem foolish or extravagant to me, what I do in passing can be extreme enough to others to cause them to literally stutter in disbelief. It makes me humble and gives me pause when I see criticism.