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Happy Christmas month!
My Favorite Christmas with Samantha Combs
I have been blessed with wonderful Christmases in my life. In fact, I became engaged to my husband of 11+ years on a memorable Christmas morning. But there is one holiday which stands out not because of what I had, but because of what I didn’t.
Four years ago this coming Christmas, my husband and I were in a very bad financial state. Hubs had lost his job, not yet found a new one, and we were barely surviving. It became clear to us sometime in November that there was not going to be any money left over for Christmas. I was despondent. How would I celebrate Christmas with my kids if there were not so many presents under the tree that you could hardly cross the living room? Having so many holidays filled with excess, I was ill-equipped and nearly incapable of having any other kind.
My husband and I sat down and tried to make a budget for at least a Christmas dinner. We discovered even that would be hard. We pared the dinner down to a turkey breast and a few vegetables. We put on a brave face and decided to be happy for what we could do. We hugged and promised it would get better and that as long as we had each other and the children, we had everything we needed.
It seems the moment we made that mental and spiritual change of attitude, things around us began to change. We went to a Christmas party with my side of the family, an annual gathering, and were stunned by the gift of cash from two uncles. We could have a lovely dinner and get the kids a few things!
Then, my husband got the call from a job he had been vying and testing for. He would be hired after the holidays! When he called with the news, I was driving. I was so overcome with emotion, I had to pull over on the side of the road. It was there that I had the first epiphany of that holiday season; I was blessed. I had never felt that before and the feeling was as powerful as a Pacific ocean wave.
Even though we knew about the new job, and had a bit of spare cash thanks to my uncles, we vowed not to spend a dime on ourselves and we didn’t. I shopped for a few bits for the kids at Big Lots instead of the huge department stores and was astonished by how many others were doing the same. It was my first inclination of where the economy was headed. While the mall parking lots were bare, parking at the local Big Lots was almost riotous. Cars in the parking spaces were another indication. Mercedes, Lexus, BMW’s. It occurred to me rich people were rich because they spent well. More enlightenment. It changed the way I shopped forever.
Christmas morning we held our breaths as the kids tore down the stairs. Would they realize it was sparse and that with the exception of two gifts, the presents were all from their grandparents? That we had none for ourselves? No, not a chance. At 5 and 2 years of age, brightly wrapped boxes and bags were too exciting to notice. This was also enlightening to me. They didn’t care! Mind-boggling.
In the quiet of the aftermath of a lovely Christmas dinner with family, and after tucking our kids into bed, my husband and I sat and hugged in front of the fire. I had no new jewelry, no new clothes, nothing from under the tree. But I didn’t care. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. My husband and I had weathered another storm and come out stronger on the other end. I had learned the true meaning of the season. Christmas 2007 was the best Christmas I ever had.