For those who follow me with this blog, you know I usually am pretty transparent. While I write about real estate and provide information about home ownership, I also share some snippets of real life. With Christmas just around the corner, I wanted to do just that in this post.
My husband and I have gone through several times of financial difficulties. One such time was in the early 90's while living in a suburb of Houston. We had moved there to start a new life and bought a foreclosure home. The home had some damage when we bought it and we had to immediately make some repairs to make it livable, but it was comfortable, and we could afford it at the time.
After a while, I began having some health issues, and then my husband lost his job. It was just before Christmas, and we lived several hours away from family. Due to our financial situation, we knew we couldn't go home for Christmas. This particular year was just going to be our little family, in our little home. My daughters were in 5th and 7th grade and while they had their wants, we knew we couldn't afford much. They were such sweet kids and excited that we were just going to be together and alone for Christmas.
While this may sound like the beginning of a Hallmark movie, it didn't feel like one. I made a special dinner for Christmas Eve, and we all were semi-excited about Christmas, but had a sadness none-the-less. We sat around and watched Christmas movies and went to sleep hoping for some sort of Christmas miracle.
The next morning, we got up, gathered around our sad little tree, and began opening gifts. The girls seemed genuinely happy for the sneakers they got and dug into the gifts from my mom and dad. I have no clue what else they got because I was too shocked when I opened my little gift.
As I opened the sleek box, there was tissue paper (light pink) as I recall, and when I opened it, there were 2 pairs of underwear.
What the heck?
For those who are older, you may remember that our parents shopped in Department Stores. Department stores were similar to Macy's and Dillard's but were not near as large and always carried nice things. This was where you bought nicer clothes, household items, and gifts. This box and the underwear, obviously came from a nice Department store.
We were all puzzled, then Earl opened the envelope with his name on it. There was a large check with sweet words of encouragement written on the card.
We had always joked that Earl was her favorite, but this really proved it. I got panties and Earl got a check.
It was cold and rainy that day, but we all went down to the local school and played basketball, then home in front of the fire and played cards. While we didn't have a lot that year, it soon became one of the best Christmas's we've had.
It took me years to understand the truth behind the underwear, and now I cherish it. You see my mom was one of 6 kids that went through the depression. She never had much, then when I was young, our family went through our fair share of financial struggles.
Silk underwear was a luxury to her. She knew that I was sacrificing personally to provide for my kids, and in her mind, something this extravagant would never be something I would purchase for myself. Expensive silk underwear, wrapped in tissue, in a nice gift box.
While this may be 'TMI' for many of you, I shared this story because most of the time, the simplest of gifts are the most memorable. Maybe we should all decide to go simple this year.
Economic experts are saying we are either in a recession or moving to a recession. Those days in Houston, Texas was in a deep recession. The house we bought was in a neighborhood where most of the homes were repossessed and vacant. We happened to be just one of many families in our little church that were experiencing financial difficulties. After the first of the year, we were able to move back to the metroplex to be close to family and the promise of a job. We made it through that season and have had many wonderful Christmas's since then.
I wanted to share this story simply because, as we get older, we remember the memorable moments more than the big moments. Purpose to make this holiday season memorable. Regardless of what you are facing, you will make it through, and who knows, maybe you will have a simple, memorable Christmas.
As a realtor, I have become all too familiar with people who are not aware of the importance of maintaining their unit. Whether you have a Heat Pump, or another type of unit, it is as important as changing the oil in your car. One client of mine, had to replace their unit in order to sell their home because they had not maintained it properly. This cost them a big chunk of money they had anticipated having for their new home.
Now is the perfect time to have someone come out and check it over. Don't wait until you are freezing and realize it isn't working properly. A service call is a fraction of the cost of a new unit, and if there are any problems developing, they can let you know now before it becomes an issue.
Our climate in North Texas can go from balmy and warm to sub-freezing in just a matter of hours. That change alone can put a strain on your unit, especially if it is older. Some older units have lasted well beyond their expected end date, just because the owner performed regular maintenance. By changing the filters every few months, and having annual checkups, you can be assured your system will work to its full potential.
My husband and I learned the lesson of taking care of our HVAC unit many years ago, and realized that since a unit is such a large expense, it makes sense to purchase an annual maintenance plan. It is relatively inexpensive and well worth the money.
Understanding how your unit works is also very important. If you have a HEAT PUMP, have a technician go over how to use the thermostat with you. Several years ago, we bought a house with a Heat Pump and no one ever explained how to use it properly. We spent hundreds of dollars on electric bills because the service tech never told us about the EM HEAT setting and when to use it. When my friend, who owns Ary Co AC told me how to operate it, I quickly switched to his company.
I was helping someone buy a home with an older unit. We requested the seller have service done on the unit to see what kind of condition it was in. They contacted Ary Co A/C & Heat LLC and upon inspection, they were told the unit worked fine, and didn't need to be upgraded or changed. I know other companies that would have taken the opportunity to make money off of the sellers. That is why we use them exclusively.
Whether you use Ary Co or not, please contact a reputable company to check on your unit if you do not have a maintenance plan. It may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
By the way, Ary doesn't compensate me for this. I've just had too many bad stories to tell of problems with units and unethical companies. There are a lot of good HVAC companies out there, so just investigate.
Stay warm everyone, who knows what this winter will bring!
To contact Ary AC, go to Air Conditioning & Heating Repair (aaryhvac.com).
Oh, and one final meme, just because I thought it was funny.