I read a wonderful article today on another blog. It’s titled When the Holidays are Hard. And the blogger, Kristen, is right. Sometimes having less at Christmas is really hard. I know people are dealing with everywhere. Her article really touched my heart, but not for the reasons one might think.
I thought about the state of our finances these days. We’ve been on a budget for years, building the house while still living in our other one, so we’re pretty tight when it comes to what we choose to spend money on.
It made me think back to last year, and for a second, miss the second income my job provided. I thought about the things we bought this year and what we bought last year. I compared things. Sure, buying things last year was a lot more simple. Everything is more simple when you have extra money, right?
And then I cringed.
Actually cringed at the thought of last year’s Christmas.
Even if I disregard the fact that Wyatt had pneumonia in both lungs, visited the doctor 5 times, the ER once, and went through two completely different rounds of the most disgusting antibiotic I have ever in my entire life had the punishment of tasting--
AND I also disregard that I, too, became ill—ear infections in both ears, which rivaled child birth on a scale from 1 to I’d-rather-pluck-my-own-eye-balls-out-with-a-dull-number-2-pencil.
Last Christmas wasn’t that great anyway.
Even without the illness that seemed to become a visible black cloud hovering over our home.
I didn’t realize it until I read Kristen’s post about hard Christmases. They come in all shapes and sizes.
Last year was a hard Christmas for our family.
This year, with less income, one would think it has been harder. But it hasn’t been. We’ve gained control of our finances in a way we’ve never before ‘got the hang of.’
Even the idea of more money= better Christmas doesn’t resonate with us anymore.
Wanna know why?
Last year, I worked 7:30 AM- 4:00 PM. (I often worked way past 4, to be honest). And Wyatt was in daycare for that time. (I worked at the same Early Learning Center, so his hours and my hours were identical.)
The second income was wonderful for our building fund. Really. It was worth it. We lived as if we only had one income, funneling everything I brought home into building materials. And Wyatt loved school, probably 85% of the time. He really enjoyed playing with others, learning new things, and gaining independence.
But guess what we did after we got home in the afternoons?
(FYI, this is something I have never told anymore.)
At least, nothing together.
Sure, I cooked dinner (part of our budget). I paid bills. I did laundry. I loaded the dishwasher. I bathed Wyatt. I got him to bed. I went to bed. And we went to sleep.
You know what I didn’t do?
I didn’t play with him in his bedroom. (I did that all day long at work with other kids. This girl was tired of building blocks and playing dress-up by 7 pm.)
I didn’t read to him. (As an educator, this is so embarrassing to say. I love reading. And to the parents of the children I taught, please know I LOVED reading to your children each and every day. But when I got home, I didn’t feel like reading to my own child.)
I probably didn’t even talk to him. Not REALLY talk to him. Nothing more than—“You watch Bubble Guppies while I cook dinner.” or “Time for dinner!” or “Will you please just get into the bathtub? We do not have time for this.” (Admittedly, his vocabulary wasn’t as large. He didn’t know so many words. But why didn’t I try?)
Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was because I worked with children full time as a teacher. Maybe it was because I was exhausted from a job that was supposed to be a “simple” alternative to working as a public school educator (and ended up being anything but). Maybe I was just not a good mom.
I don’t know. I still don’t understand it. It was a crazy year of getting up too early and staying up too late, working too many hours, and never feeling like I was doing a good job. With anything. Home or work.
I’m telling you all this so you know why I’m enjoying less this year but feel so much more.
Want to know what my days look like right now?
Well, Friday I drank coffee while sitting in a toddler bed, while watching an episode of Batman streaming via Netflix from my laptop. I was curled up next to Wyatt, while he ate bacon (he l-o-v-e-s bacon) and sipped milk from his sippy cup.
I played hide-and-seek for every bit of two hours. I was exhausted. Wyatt was exhausted. Josie was a nervous wreck. (She cannot handle someone trying to hide. She turns into Lassie, barking at the hider, while barking the seeker all the way to the hiding spot. Where’s little Timmy, Jo-jo? In the well again?)
We built a dog-birthing-station. (It turned into a rocket ship.)
We made Swig cookies (fyi: they turned out horrible).
So we made sugar cookies (thank you, Alton Brown).
We re-decorated the Christmas tree (this is a daily thing this month. Wyatt pulls the bottom half of the decorations off every day.)
Wyatt played in the bathtub for an hour while I got ready in the bathroom.
We read Llama Llama Holiday Drama. (3 times.)
We played “I Spy.”
We read a page out of his Bedtime devotional.
We watched some TMNT on Hulu.
We prayed together.
And we talked a lot. to each other. about everything. His favorite color is orange (he calls it green though) and he loves his daddy more than me (unless daddy asks, then he loves mommy more). And he says I get on his nerves. “For kissin’ me all da time.” I can be okay with that.
So this Christmas, I’m so thankful we have less. Less feels like so much more these days.
Merry Christmas. My wish for you is less, so you and your family can have so much more together.