This Year I Gave My “Presence” Instead of “Presents”

    

This past year has taken its financial toll on our family and our finances. My husband left his well-paying job with good benefits in public transportation last January, due to the severe mental stress that he was under, and for 3 long weeks there was no work to be found. 

We were okay for a time, with his last check coming in and him cashing out his small retirement plan we were able to manage financially for a while. He eventually went back to work in framing, construction work that he loves, however, the construction business is not as busy as it used to be, and people are not always as trustworthy as you expect them to be.

Being self-employed also has its downside, with no guarantees that you are going to get paid for the work you put in (when working for someone with no integrity who doesn’t honor his word and has no operating cash),and there are no health benefits offered by a large company at reasonable rates.

For several weeks my husband worked hard, long hours, even going out of town and staying overnight to complete construction jobs that were contracted, and for a few weeks he was paid on time. Then, the person he was working for ran out of funds to operate his business and made lots of promises to several of the construction workers stating that as soon as they completed “this job”, he would get paid from the owner or company and he would then, in turn, pay them. This is far from good business, and several of the workers cut their losses early and left to find work elsewhere, with someone that could, and would, pay them for their hard labor.

 Others, like my husband, gave this man the benefit of the doubt and stayed on with him completing the job, getting barely more than gas money to make it to and from the job site, while trusting that they would be paid-in-full once the job was completed.

To make a very long story shorter, this did not work out as promised, and we went from living paycheck-to-paycheck to borrowing money for our now past due bills and food.

In June, while applying for jobs online, I was re-directed to a university and I decided to go back to school and I started taking accelerated courses online to obtain my BBA. In an effort to stay home with my family, in addition to taking online courses, I also started working from home with various programs including referral programs. They did not pan out well and although I put in a lot of time and effort on these ventures, they did not make a dent in our finances and we continue to struggle.

With the weather and no work always being factors of whether or not my husband can work, and our current financial status, I have decided to go back to work and I have been actively seeking employment. I plan to continue to build my Jewelry In Candles business on the side, but we need a steady income and benefits way more than I need to get my degree or build my JIC biz.

We knew that this Christmas, like others in the past, was going to arrive late for our family, and I was once again kicking myself for letting things get this destitute, listening to my husband tell me week after week that things would pick up and get better, before I finally decided to make a change that would make a difference.

Inside, my emotions are raging and I’m resenting the situation, lack of money, having to get food from family, and the lack of Christmas gifts which all combined to equal to a lack of Christmas Spirit on my part. But, all the while, I’m sharing holiday cheer, which I do not feel, on Facebook liking, commenting on and sharing pictures and wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

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By Christmas Eve, I had had enough of myself and my negativity. I am a Christian and Christmas means more than giving presents and having a big feast with family!

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At that moment, I made a decision. I could not give my youngest daughter (12) Christmas presents, but I could give her something of much more value, my presence!

One of her older sisters had given her a nail set for Christmas, so we decided to give each other manicures and then paint our toenails while watching holiday movies all night long, just us girls.

We had the best time! We watched “The Last Holiday” (again), then “All She Wants for Christmas”, and “Dear Santa”.

We gave each other manicures and painted our nails and then our toenails, pausing the movies to talk, laugh and share when certain topics came up.

At 4 a.m. on Christmas morning, with our tired bodies ready for sleep we reluctantly called it a “night”.

Years from now when she’s older, she may not remember every Christmas or every Christmas present she received, but I believe in my heart that she will remember and cherish this special Christmas when instead of receiving presents she received my presence and the wonderful memories we made. I know I will!   

 

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Christmas presents will be given after Christmas, and we will celebrate that special time when it arrives, but I think I finally understand what my dad meant when he used to say “I don’t need anything for Christmas, just love.” Merry Christmas to you in Heaven, daddy, and thank you for the values and lessons you taught me.