The Power of the Pocketbook


If you ever feel you are stuck with relatives who are nuts, read Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. Your own family will seem perfectly normal by comparison! In this much-lauded (and sometimes maligned) book about poor people in Appalachia, Vance talks about the empowerment that comes from picking up the check. Since this is a privilege we often deny our grown children, albeit with the best intentions, I thought we might take a look at what he had to say about a family outing he hosted while on leave from the Marines:
     “I drove the whole way. I paid for gas, and I bought everyone dinner (admittedly at Wendy’s).  I felt like such a man, a real grownup. To laugh and joke with the people I loved most as they scarfed down the meal I’d provided gave me a feeling of joy and accomplishment that words can’t possibly describe . . .But I had never felt empowered—never believed that I had the ability and the responsibility to care for those I loved.”

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