The word “charity” has taken on a newer connotation, more along the lines of generosity toward the unfortunate among us. A recent Associated Press article caught my eye, one addressing an aspect of charity in the home.
The decades-old, even centuries-old, tradition of the Tooth Fairy has seen a dramatic change over the past few years. In spite of the recession, or maybe because of it, the Tooth Fairy herself has seen fit to make some changes to reflect the uneasy economy.
We have moved from the days of dimes and quarters to the more realistic gift of greenbacks. A “lost” tooth now brings on average $3.70, according to the article.
Time was when newborn babies were given piggy banks, an item that dates back to the Middle Ages when a clay called pygg was used to make small pots where coins and other small valuables were kept.
In my childhood, children were taught the virtue of saving money from the day of their birth until they left the nest. This would include Tooth Fairy money and allowances, in addition to birthday and Christmas gifts.
The little banks had a slot in the top where pennies and dimes and nickels and an occasional quarter could be dropped. Seeing those coins in the tummy of a glass pig was enticing to a child, bringing feelings of pride and dreams of the purchase of a special toy.
My, how things have changed. Try to explain to a youngster today that a penny — or a dollar — saved is a penny, or dollar, earned. Even harder is to explain that the same money invested in the stock market will multiply. (And there’s a chance that it won’t.)
Or try to explain a “savings plan” where the penny will draw interest (Ha!), or tell them about the old stand-by, U. S. Savings Bonds. No wonder they want to spend it immediately.
A few of them might carefully keep the bills safely stacked and stored in a cardboard box or their mother’s jewelry case. But not for long.
In spite of all this, I am convinced that the Tooth Fairy is here to stay. For one thing, she (or he, or it) has money. Parents don’t have money.
They have plastic cards and checks. They have no cash to reimburse the Tooth Fairy. Our money is floating around in cyberspace, circling the earth, searching for a landing place.
The few humans who still spend real money have reason to be concerned. I find myself complaining when a young, or old, store clerk cannot make correct change. I fear that the situation can only get worse.
I did a little research about the increase in the Tooth Fairy’s gift. One story is worth repeating.
Reagan Brauer recently lost a tooth. Literally. It somehow disappeared from the baggie where it had been placed for safekeeping until bedtime.
All searches proved futile. Her solution to the problem was to write a note: “Dear Tooth Fairy, I’m sorry. I lost my tooth. Please forgive me. I love you. Reagan Brauer.”
It worked. The Tooth Fairy is very understanding. The next morning, the note was gone and $3 was in its place.
Apparently the Tooth Fairy can read, even the labored printing of a primary student.
Another story is told by the mother of Regan Daugherty. Regan awoke her parents in the middle of the night showing them that her tooth had fallen out.
The next morning, she was in tears that the Tooth Fairy hadn’t come. Later in the day, there appeared money and a note from the Tooth Fairy stating that she had been frightened by a new lava lamp in Regan’s room and had to come back when it was daylight.
It seems to be common knowledge that oftentimes the Tooth Fairy has more stops to make than she can manage in one night and therefore must visit on the following night.
Nat Sillin, an official with Visa, is quoted in the article as saying, “While more money is exciting news for children, parents should take this opportunity to talk saving and smart money habits with their kids and have the same talk with a perhaps overgenerous Tooth Fairy.”
If the Fairy is not around, perhaps parents can just leave a note.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian.