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.