forgive me ahead of time for breaking social etiquette. i know it's not polite to talk about money. the thing is, i tend to live a fairly transparent life, and when stuff is going on, i'm not one to hide it. plus i just kinda need to get some stuff out of my feelings and into words.
i'll start by saying i'm super proud of myself. we got back from our thanksgiving trip to spokane today, and i've accomplished so much in the last 12 hours. i'm tempted to include the actual list because it just seems like it's been so long since i really felt like i ACCOMPLISHED something at home, but i'll spare you. the thing i'm most proud of is that i have decorated our home for christmas. it's not much...i'd never be featured in martha stewart magazine, and no one is going to come into my home and proclaim "oh my! it's just stunning! how DID you do it?!?" but it's cozy and it didn't cost a penny, which is the important part. i just tried to get as creative as i could with stuff we had from last christmas. and i really think i did alright. you're cordially invited to come visit and see for yourself. i'd be happy to make hot cocoa for you.
a year ago, just before we found out we were knocked up, i was thinking about how THIS christmas ("next" christmas at that point") would be the one where i'd really be intentional about decorating IMPRESSIVELY. i figured we'd be at a place financially where i could get some nicer things (as it is most of our "decorations" are from the dollar store) and really feel like a grown up for the holidays.
reality is that God's perfect gift is also the most expensive thing i've ever experienced next to college...and considering my scholarships and the fact that the NICU bills KEEP coming in, college may look cheap by the time this is all over. we thought we had done a great job of saving while we were pregnant, we thought we'd be more than set. but we are wiped out and there is no end in sight. and of course i wouldn't change it for a world of beautiful christmas garb and doodads. my little lady has brought us more joy and love-depth than i could have dreamed, and i certainly wouldn't put any price on that.
it's just a really difficult adjustment for me. i grew up with a LOT of disfunction, but we always had more than enough STUFF and money. in fact, money was the currency of apologies..."sorry i yelled at you...let's go to the mall and get some nice things" "sorry i hit you, here's a hundred bucks." "oh, you had a rough day at school? let's stop by macy's on the way home." all of this basically trained me that when things are tough or don't feel so good, you can buy your way out of it. and really? it works a lot of the time. i didn't have a close family, but i always had the things i wanted, which basically tried to fill the "love" void. the other thing about that experience was that i have never been the one with less money than other people. i've never been RICH mind you, but i've always been able to bless my friends and the occasional stranger with money or lunch or a full gas tank or whatever they needed but couldn't get. and i've loved doing that.
have you read "the five love languages?" my secondary love language is giving gifts...so trying to accept that this christmas there will be no gifts for my husband much less my incredibly deserving friends is a very harsh reality. hanging out with the girls at the mall and seeing them be able to buy gorgeous shoes and holiday attire and having to tell myself that i can't justify a cup of coffee right now is more humbling than i was ready for. it's my little girl's first christmas, and i know she won't remember or ever ask or care one bit...but i feel like i'm failing her because i can't get her a christmas dress or stuff a stocking or get her "baby's first christmas" things. it is such a different holiday season than i was anticipating.
but, at the end of the day, at the end of THIS day, my precious baby is sleeping in my lap, my "sexiest man alive" look-alike husband is giggling at an episode of the simpsons, and my house has glowing twinkle lights reflecting in silver ornaments above felt stockings on the fireplace...and when i focus on those things my heart feels full and tinglywarm, and that's all anyone wants this time of year in the first place.