mostly for myself. I love all holidays, but Christmas is my favorite. I decorate with at least two full-size trees, I bake cookies, make hand dipped candies, put out my Department 56 Original Snow Village buildings (I have 16 of them). I watch Hallmark TV movies, listen to almost any Christmas music, put up lights and garland everywhere. And that’s just the inside of the house. Most years, anyway.
One year, long ago, hubby lost his long-time engineering job when his company, the last of the American electronic giants, finally closed its doors. It was early summer and he had months of severance pay and unemployment benefits, vacation pay, etc. before we’d be hurting. I told him we’d be fine, I wasn’t worried, we could handle it and we both agreed he should take a class to update his skills and give him something current to include on his resume. In my heart, I knew we’d be fine if he just could find a new position by Christmas.
Well, December arrived and he didn’t have another job. There weren’t even many nibbles. A few phone calls but no interviews that worked out. Companies weren’t really hiring at the end of the year, duh. For the first time ever, hubby and the boys had to urge me to start putting up decorations. They put up the outside lights with no input from me. My heart just wasn’t in it. I did the minimum required for the kids, but I was so angry and scared. Back then we just had the kids, maybe one or two grandkids, but gifts for five children? Not to mention nieces and nephews, parents. We cut back to the bare minimum for everyone.
I used to be one of those people who wanted a perfect holiday. Nothing else would do. And that year was pretty far from perfect. We were trying to spend less, worried about the future and I just couldn’t find any Christmas spirit. (A psychologist I saw for awhile called me very forward thinking — and not in a good way! Missing out on today because I was too worried about the future. But that’s another post, lol.) Writing a newsletter to go in the cards was hard. My rule about that is it has to be only one page and it has to be upbeat and funny. Nearly impossible.
I was so resentful. We already had a son who’d been born with disabilities, both physical and mental. I’d had to quit working outside the home after he was born and was typing at home to earn extra, but it wasn’t exactly a job that could support a family of four. Now we’d lost hubby’s income and would probably lose our house — well, not really, but that’s how my mind worked that year. I got more depressed and unhappier by the minute, very tragic drama queen. I was young and stressed and not on my meds back then 🙂
You already know how this story ends. Of course you do. Christmas came anyway. And the important things, being together with family and friends, eating wonderful food, appreciating the season, watching the magic happen for the children, none of that changed. No matter how little money we had, no matter how worried we were. I wasted all those days being scared and hurt and angry and only ended up spoiling the holiday for myself. And I vowed I would never, ever do that again… And hubby went back to work in January at a job that had lots less stress and great benefits. A blessing really!
Yes, I do have a point. Really. This year I’m in the middle of chemo treatments for breast cancer as Christmas approaches. I didn’t make the hand dipped peanut butter or coconut candies this year cause it’s too tiring. No one will mind, the nieces and nephews are all old enough to drink beer now and combining the two isn’t a great idea anyway!
Only one tree is up, I skipped the Department 56 houses, only baked two kinds of cookies, but who needs the calories anyway? I did my cards and my one page newsletter and even made it a little humorous. I bought gift cards as gifts for all the kids and grandkids (and maybe a few Cubs things!) And I’m content.
My youngest brother and his wife are hosting Christmas Eve this year. I have a surgical mask to wear in case anyone has a cold, my wig actually looks better than my hair ever did and if I’m tired, I’ll go upstairs and lie down for awhile. Being together with family is the most important part of the holiday for me and this year I get to do that and I’m so grateful. And happy. I’ve learned perspective as I’ve aged. And maybe even gained a little wisdom.
It’s going to be another joyous Christmas for us. And I wish for all of you, my beautiful, supportive blog family, a warm and wonderful holiday, whichever one(s) you celebrate!
Photo of Grumpy Cat from Bing.