Friday, December 16, 2011

A change of my heart

Admittedly, I have had a very tough time getting into the spirit of Christmas this year.

More embarrassing to admit is the reason why.

Money. Yup. I have been a bah humbug because funds are in so short supply right now.

So as I have used grocery and gas money to buy Christmas presents, I have done so with sadness in my heart, rather than the joy that normally accompanies the purchasing of presents for my children.

I know we're not the only ones. People all over the country are struggling. But I suppose I was feeling extra sorry for myself when I considered that most people have only a few children to buy for, while I have been trying to figure out how to buy for 6.

This feeling had me close to tears all day yesterday as I grocery/Christmas present shopped. I was already in a state of high anxiety knowing that buying Christmas presents with grocery money means that 5 days before we get paid again I will begin hearing, "There is no food mom! When are you going shopping again?"
(And not that there really is no food, just not a lot, and none that they like. )

As I walked the aisles of Walmart, comparing prices and generally being in a cruddy mood, I kept finding myself near the same couple. I don't know if they were husband and wife, brother and sister, or a man and his caregiver. But every time I turned around they seemed to be shopping in the same aisle as myself.

The gentleman was probably in his fifties, in a motorized wheel chair, limited use of his arms, and from listening to him I figured that either he had been in an accident that caused him not only his mobility, but also caused some brain damage, or whatever had caused his mobility had changed his perspective and given him a more hopeful child-like outlook. I couldn't tell which, and it ended up not mattering, but being a huge blessing instead.

In the toothbrush aisle, I first heard him asking his companion why there were so many people at Walmart today. She told him they were all Christmas shopping. He smiled big.

In the band aid aisle he was asking her when the Charlie Brown Christmas special would be on. "It should be soon. " she told him. "Oh good." he replied. "I LOVE the Charlie Brown Christmas special."

In the middle of the main aisle, as I perused the overly processed contents of a goodie shelf and as she looked it over as well, he started singing. "And every mother's child is gonna spy, to see if rain deer really know how to fly!" And you know what? The grinch's heart grew. And I started singing with him. We finished jubilantly with "Merry you!!!" He smiled at me, she gave me a grateful look, I told him good job, and then I walked away and promptly started crying. Because as we are all learning, I cry. A lot.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried folks.

I realized, that in the entire store of Walmart, that man understood the spirit of Christmas better than all of us. As we all hustled and bustled, he was experiencing pure joy at what Christmas is. And why should he be happier than me? He couldn't walk, he could hardly use his arms and my impression was that money did not grow on trees for them either. But yet, he was the one breaking out in song. And I was the one sulking.

But as I walked away, my humbug-ness washed away. I was flooded with how blessed I am. I was so immensely grateful that Heavenly Father loves me enough to have put that man in my path. He could have humbled me in so many ways. But instead, I was shown the spirit of Christmas present, with a duet in Walmart. (And don't think I didn't realize how glad Jeff or Kate would be to NOT have been there to experience my public performance)

I tried to pull myself together. As easily as I cry, I am just as easily mortified when people notice. But I stood in line happy all of a sudden. Nothing in my financial situation had changed. But I was gently reminded of how fortunate I truly am.

I can walk. My husband has a job. Those six children I am worried about buying for? Well, duh! I have SIX children? How lucky is that? It's the biggest blessing in my life. Second only to having met Jeff.
I realized how fortunate that I even have the ability to dip into my food money to buy presents. I was reminded that my one tank of gas miraculously lasted two weeks, leaving me with more money for presents for my children. Our ENTIRE extended family lives within an hour and a half of us. All of my siblings and my parents, all of Jeff's siblings and his parents. We're all relatively healthy, discounting for age and auto-immune disorders:) I can park in my garage. I HAVE a garage. I have a house. I have heat that I can turn up when it's colder than normal. The list goes on and on, and it did, in my head, as I stood in line.

When I got back to my car, I sat and wrote down everything I've been able to purchase the past two months using my system of food money as Christmas money, plus the little bit I had left over after bills from my basement boutique.

And honestly, it should not have been possible to provide my kids with as nice of a Christmas as they are going to have, and still have had enough food to eat. Enough, meaning no one went hungry, they just didn't get the normal snacks they love.

I'm not sure how it has all worked, I just feel really blessed that it has. And I don't feel sorry for myself anymore. And please don't you either. Feel sorry collectively for all the people who don't have enough right now. Because I'm not one of them.

I have enough, and to spare obviously.

I just didn't know that until carols were sung in the aisle at Walmart.

God Bless Us. Everyone.

(Christmas tree courtesy of one of Santa's most beautiful elves. Crookedness courtesy of the Allen Family)


  1. It's so hard not to get caught up in the "I wish I had..." at Christmas but your kids will have a wonderful Christmas because they already have the best gift of all...parents who love them and love each other.

    Holy crap that's cheesy for a Friday morning but it's true! Hang in there girl! And Merry Christmas!

  2. Oh Amy, God bless you!!

    You gave me a little chuckle with my eye's full of unshead tears with this(1 did get away)

    p.s. our tears mean we feel the world and everyone in it more than most!! That's what I tell myself anyway :-)

  3. God has blessed you so much, and will continue to do so!! I am so happy that you found the Christmas spirit alive and well! xx

  4. I wiped away a tear, and read this to my husband. My husband and I never had children, and a year and a half ago by fate, were blessed enough to get the chance to take in my nephew who is 9yrs old now. We finally.. finalize the adoption Dec 21st, just in time for Christmas! The traditions you share, you will find, will be what they remember and cherish. Anyways, great post.


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