I'm guilty of spending entirely too much time on finding the "perfect" gift for the special people in my life. I balance the desire to shower my little guy with presents with the knowledge that doing so will turn him into a monster. Experiencing and learning to deal with disappointment is a skill I want him to develop (but it's a hard one for a mom to let her son learn sometimes.)
I'm sharing our family Christmas letter that I wrote four years ago. In part as a warning to be careful and in part to remind myself of what I want to FEEL at Christmas (hint-it's not a cashmere sweater-although they are quite nice. )
Dear Family and Friends,
This hasn't been the easiest Christmas for us. The dramatic changes in print media, have made it difficult for my husband to find freelance work. The caricature stand has been slow. So we'd decided quite awhile ago, that we wouldn't exchange gifts this Christmas. I told my husband I had a few small gifts for him (because I buy gifts throughout the year.) Business picked up a bit the last week before Christmas and He began getting freelance jobs from Craigslist. We were starting to feel hopeful.
On Wednesday, we attempted to take our son to see Santa for the third time. My husband looked at the longest line yet and sighed. He didn't want to wait-and he started complaining about how he'd had no time to Christmas shop. So I told him to go run his errands and I'd wait in line. I think we waited for about 2 1/2 hours-and my son was happy for the first 2 1/4 hours.
I called my husband on his phone and he came back. He was no longer crabby-he had a smile on his face and with a mischievous grin told me "No peeking in the car." From a distance, Santa looked pretty good-but it turns out he was one of the sketchy ones-and couldn't even muster a smile when we came up. We got our Santa pictures and we decided to get some appetizers before heading home. Our spirits were bright in spite of Grumpy Claus.
I was almost to my car, when I got the phone call from my husband. From the sound of his voice, I thought our son had gotten hurt-or hit by a car. But while we'd been waiting in line to see Santa, someone had smashed the window and stolen all of the Christmas presents he'd bought. They took a pop he'd had and threw it all over the car-did they think he was hiding something in it? Our son's car seat was covered in glass.
It wasn't about the presents, it was the loss of hope. My husband's shoulders were down, I knew he felt completely beaten. “They stole my Christmas,” he told me. After filing the police report, he went home and went straight to bed. I cried more than I have in a long time, for my husband, for me, for the state of everything.
Woke up upset and wondered how I would be able to pull myself out of this funk. We had to try to get the car fixed so I could get to work, shovel the driveway, call the insurance company and if we couldn't get the window fixed, I’d miss Christmas eve with my parents. After a cup of coffee, I grabbed my shovel and started to clear some of the snow away. There was a younger man across the street snowblowing the neighbor’s driveway. “Hey, put that away! We’re coming to get you next!!!” he shouted cheerfully.
This was exactly what my husband and I needed this morning. A reminder of the kindness of strangers. We told our neighbor what had happened-and how his coming over to do our driveway had made our morning.
My husband went to work, and my insurance company was able to find a glass company that was open on Christmas Eve. They were able to find the glass at a dealership in Burnsville and promised to be at our house before one.
Jim had called the owner of the Caricature stand in the morning to see if he still needed to go in-it’s been slow and with everything happening, he’d hoped to stay home so I could go in to my work. The owner said he was sorry but he didn’t have anyone to cover the shift.
So my husband schlepped the baby over to my parents and went to work. With the weather it was another slow day. He did one drawing-of which he gets 40%, so he made about 6.00 on Christmas eve. Except the owner stopped by the booth. He thanked my husband for his hard work and told him he is thankful to be in business with him. Then he gave my husband his first Christmas bonus-500.00 in cash!!!!!
It’s not about the money either, it was about the return of hope. My husband called me to tell me the news-he was choked up-he said he almost hugged the owner-but they were in a public place, so he didn’t.
This Christmas I was reminded of the kindness and generosity of our friends, neighbors and strangers. Without the friends and family in our life, we could’ve continued to feel violated and bitter. But our friends are there to help lift us up when our spirits flag. This Christmas I remain grateful and humble of all the great blessings we have-fabulous friends, thoughtful neighbors, amazing family members and a wonderful life. This Christmas seemed like it would be the worst Christmas ever-but instead it’s turned into one of the most memorable ones ever.
Best wishes to you and yours on this Christmas Day!!!!
Best wishes to you and yours on this Christmas Day!!!!
I read this letter to remind myself of what I want to experience at Christmas: the joy of hanging out with friends, a sense of community and a feeling of gratitude for the blessings I have. This Christmas season, I wish the same for you and your family. (It would be better if I ended this blog there, but I want to remind people that people wait in parking lots for people to drop off their packages and then break into your cars. If you need to leave a package in your car, experts recommend driving away and finding a new parking spot.