The last 20 days were a little crazy, I’m not going to lie.  Too much work, too much school, donated firewood thanks to Sean, a bad head cold with swollen eardrums and frozen pipes led up to Christmas but the bigger issue actually is that for the first time, probably ever, I have not been able to purchase a single Christmas for anybody who is important to me.

I am a gift giver, it is my nature and I feel like it is a part of what defines me.  In the past I have grieved deeply whenever a gift-giving season came – Christmas, birthdays, Easter, etc. – and I was unable to give something.  Which was pretty much all the time.  Over the years it contributed to my depression and times that were supposed to be joyful and happy filled me with guilt and shame, especially my children’s birthdays as they grew older and wanted big parties with all their friends and I just couldn’t afford to do the things they wanted.  Christmas lost it’s magic and I felt that loss deeply without realizing exactly why the holiday spirit was gone.

In previous years I have been in financial situations where I shouldn’t have bought Christmas gifts for anyone and I did anyway but this year I didn’t even have the ability to rob Peter to pay Paul… I literally have nothing extra.  Nothing.

Soooo… normally that would depress me, wound me, devastate me but – and this is how I know I’ve grown – this year I crunched the numbers, knew I couldn’t buy anything and accepted it without allowing my inability to give gifts to affect my self-esteem.

Ta dah!  Look at me go!

I still did what I could, I wrote cards to my closest friends and co-workers telling them the things I appreciated about them and gave the cards as my Christmas gifts.  One of the cooks, a former gangster from LA – now the nicest man you’ll ever meet, said they were they  most beautiful words anyone had ever said to him and there were tears in his eyes.  Others said my card was so nice it made them choke up.  And the ones that thanked me for the cards – their responses blessed me more than anyone I’ve ever given a purchased gift to.

And some of the magic came back to Christmas…

Christmas Day itself found me cooking up a storm.  Tina and Sean came over and we invited everyone at the restaurant to come who didn’t have a place to go for Christmas.  I made caramel french toast, buttermilk pancakes and homemade buttermilk syrup.  Magic punch and Reindeer Toes.  I was going to make caramel chex mix but only three people out of the 12 we invited came over so we already had too much food, lol.  It was super casual, all three were young men in their early to mid 20’s and we just sat around eating, talking and watching movies.  Later we went to Sean’s house and had dinner with his family and then we all went to watch the new Jumanji movie.  I wish I had known them before Sean’s father died, they’re nice people but it will be interesting to be a part of this family.

I did not attempt to go to my dad and step-mom’s house, not only was she was not feeling well but she went to a lot of effort to tell me that they were not expecting any presents from me or Tina because they wouldn’t be giving us any and Christmas dinner was just going to be a normal dinner, nothing special and Sean was not invited, which meant that Tina refused to go.  It was easier to say I still wasn’t feeling well myself and not go than try to deal with my step-mom and in the end my day was much nicer I think.

So this is Christmas… A very different Christmas than I’ve ever had but better. Much, much better.

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