Perspective

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We had our first snow of the season last week and made a big bowl of snow cream for breakfast.
Evie was so excited about ice cream for breakfast that you could literally see the spoon shake in her hand
and she had trouble shoveling it into her mouth fast enough.

It has been a taxing few weeks in the Jacobs' household. While it has been plenty challenging in terms of physical stress with cleaning up the house to sell and packing, I'm talking more about emotionally. It has been hard on us emotionally to come to terms with a lot of what is going on. I've been struggling a lot with feeling inadequate, uneducated, in the gutter to say the least. I don't like to talk about money or how much money my husband makes or the fact that neither of us have degrees because I like to focus on where we came from and how far we've come together. Sometimes that's hard. Sometimes it's hard to ignore the thoughts that so obviously pervade people's minds when you have to hand over your resume or your pay stub and all they can say is 'Call us if something changes.' We were married young. We had a child young. For personal and financial reasons neither of us were able to finish college before we started a family and I'm not blaming that on anyone. I'm also not here to talk about regrets, but about blessings. I know the option was there to wait until we were more financially stable to have a child, but if we're honest with ourselves, we'd be in the same situation without her and the joy she brings into our lives make the struggling that much more joyful, that much more worth it. I think I would have given up on dreams a long time ago if it weren't for her. The world would have hardened me long ago if it weren't for her.

When we leave at the end of the week, we won't be driving straight to New York because each person we call about an apartment tells my husband he doesn't make enough money. It's hard to watch him work so hard and have no control over his salary only to have someone say, "It still isn't good enough. You serve our country, but you still can't provide a home for your family in this city." That's hard stuff to grasp and come to terms with. He is a hard working man and will pay the bills, no doubt about that, and we have a plan. We have dreams of finishing degrees and building our own business and we really believe this city is the place to do it, but man is it hard when someone tells you that the first step (having a home) in that plan just can't come true until you do steps 2 and 3, which is essentially impossible. It feels like we've been put in a corner. It feels like we're poor. I know we're not. Our lives are so full of riches, but isn't it funny how easily other people can make you feel that way? We have a fridge full of food and closets full of clothes and a lot of love in our home and big dream in our hearts, but the world tries to tell us we still don't have enough. We are privileged, unbelievably privileged and I refuse to be convinced otherwise.

I read a post about this topic over on Inked in Colour and she says it better than I can so I thought I would just quote a portion of what she said here: 

"What if instead of putting so much value on what we have, we put just as much value on what we did. On the way we behave. On the way we treat other people. Imagine how different the world would be.
I see lots of blogs and articles and writing around that strongly focus on messages of non-consumerism more wholesome living. But then feature clothing and furniture and family props and childrens toys that are very expensive and extraordinarily unattainable for most people.
It’s really no wonder that people think they are poor, even when they are not.
It’s really no wonder our world is full of people who are putting themselves under great financial strain and stress to just keep up. And when they can’t, they feel like they are failing.
Never mind that we don’t know our neighbours… or that we are afraid. Never mind that as a society we are lonely and disconnected from one another on an honest and personal level. Never mind all of that. Instead we shop. We buy. We push past each other in stores to get to the best deals. We fill our trollies with crap to wrap and give for the sake of giving, without thinking of the cost these gifts have to other people. We try to prove ourselves to other people who are all doing the same thing. Keeping up. But with what exactly?
Why do we put so much value on money and possessions? Why is every second post I read about a “wish list” or a “must have list”?
Is this really what matters most to us? Is this what matters most to YOU?
With Christmas just around the corner, there is a lot of crazy spending going on. I get sucked into it most years. To do my part at my family Christmas. To fill a stocking. To fill a need. The need to keep up. The need to buy. To give. To receive. I wonder if we do it because that’s what we truly want to do, or if we are just so well programmed we do it without even thinking. We just go through the motions, handing over cash for colourful chunks of plastic and useless nicknacks. Cash that could be used for much more important things.
Imagine if we did it differently?
The spirit of Christmas is beautiful. It’s a joy to give. It truly is. But when we give and receive so much, do we really appreciate any of it? Or have we already started lamenting what we didn’t get? Or what we couldn’t afford to buy? Or have we already moved on to the next big thing, without pause.
Instead of buying enormous amounts of useless things to stuff stockings and pile gifts under the tree… what if we bought one well thought out thing. One thing that someone will truly love. One thing that someone will really appreciate. Just one. One thing for our children. One thing for our family. One thing for our friends. Or what if we made things. Or focused on experiences. What can I give to you that you need. Do you need my time? My skill? My love? What can I give to someone I don’t even know? Instead of stretching ourselves so thin financially that we are stressed and in debt and struggling… why not celebrate comfortably within our means, whatever that is, and focus on what really matters.
The people we spend it with.
And be bloody grateful for the fact that we have means with which to choose how we spend the little bit we have left over.
We get to choose how we celebrate, what we eat, what we give. And that in itself is a blessing that is NOT afforded to everyone this Christmas."

Because we are struggling to make our New York City dream a reality, we won't be able to celebrate much of Christmas this year and to be honest, I kind of like how freeing it is. We have family and friends who know this and have stepped in as 'surrogate Santas.' There will be no shortage of gifts for her, but really, she would be happy with a chocolate orange and one new toy. We have a tiny little Christmas tree and a few gifts for Ev to unwrap, but the best gift that I can think of will be waking up cuddled next to these two under the tree on Christmas Day and cracking open a can of cinnamon rolls like we always do. This family of mine is something else. I can't believe that I even get to call them 'mine.'

2 comments:

  1. Andrea this is an incredibly beautiful and honest revelation. Thank you for sharing your heart! Kids really don't need much in the way of "things" do they? What they need are parents who love them...which your daughter obviously has! :) I also love the quote you posted...I can't say I'm totally guiltless of doing that, but I can think of a few blogs who do what she mentioned. It is disheartening. I spent $4 on Christmas cards this year (woop, go me) and was so excited at the money I saved...then when other people's cards started rolling in I began to feel bad that theirs were printed on heavy card stock from Tiny Prints or wherever and ours weren't. My frugal hubby gave me "the look" and right away I realized how utterly ridiculous that was! Perspective, perspective. Okay...LONG comment here. Time to wrap it up. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Andrea!
      I went through the same thing with Christmas cards. I had to pare down our list from 30+ people to 10 because we're on a tight budget and it was hard at first, until my husband was like "We haven't talked to these people in years," etc. and I just focused on people who I knew would really appreciate receiving one. Sometimes I feel like the Christmas card charade is more about how pretty and well put together you can make your family look. It almost feels like a high school reunion in your mailbox - people flooding it, saying 'look how perfect my life is.' Myself included in that - sometimes I need a reality check about what really matters. My husband and I joked about putting pictures of what really happened this year, like a screaming kid right on the front to be realistic. Lol. I'm sure your cards are beautiful - even if they weren't professionally printed and cost $4. ;)

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