Friday, December 17, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Round III

At first I wasn't sure which Christmas memory to share next. Then today at school it came to me. My teacher friends were talking about a particular student expressing that she and her family were probably not going to have Christmas this year as they didn't have much money. My friends being awesome, bought her some gifts to take to her so she could have a Christmas. Then I remembered about the year that Christmas almost didn't happen
I lived in Iowa for two years back in the early '90s. In fact, I lived in an over 100 year farm house on a working farm (we rented). There were lots of cows around and more corn than I care to think about. When I say we lived in the country I mean country. Our nearest neighbors were a mile or more away. We lived in this house because it was halfway between my father's work place and the small city where my mother worked. My father eventually got fed up with his position and quit. I know this wasn't a decision taken lightly, but, I can't help but think he didn't realize how hard it would be to find work.
Months stretched on, my father was on unemployment and I even remember going with him to pick up his check. That check and my mother's teacher salary was barely enough to keep our family going. I remember not being too worried about the lack of things around the house, but, I do remember being worried about them. My parents seemed to be worried most of the time and when Christmas rolled around their concerns seemed even heavier. Being an oblivious 11 year old I didn't really think much of what all they could be worrying about.
We had Christmas and I remember thinking it was odd Santa gave my brother and I more candy in our stocking than usual. Typically, we had lots of goodies and a bit of candy. I also recall noting, that there weren't a lot of gifts either. Years later my mother told me that that Christmas happened because of her teacher friends and my grandparents that year. In fact, we almost didn't have a Christmas that year. I still to this day don't know who helped us at my mother's school, but, I really wish I did because I would love to give them a hug. Talk about the true embodiment of giving.
Please allow me a quick post story shout out. To all those who provided for my family thank you. To all of those who give a little to charity, or a surprise gift to someone who doesn't have much, or just being kind towards one another thank you. To the teachers at my school who give to those students who don't have much, thank you.


annelise said...

Gah, that just made me tear up. Christmas shouldn't be about presents but you can't tell that to kids. I think the early 90s were pretty rough for everyone, I remember a couple of tight times back then too.

Habebi said...

annelise- Yeah, it gets to me too thinking about it. When you're a kid presents is part of the Christmas deal; I couldn't even imgaine telling my kids they weren't going to get presents during Christmas. Could you imagine?

Sarah said...

Yup, 1989/1990 was our tough year, and your story made me tear up, too. That year my dad had quit his job and was driving to a town over an hour away every day to work at a job he hated just to make ends meet. Then again, if he hadn't quit, we never would have moved down here and I never would have met you, dear, so all's well that ends well! HAPPY CHRISTMAS BREAK!

The Pliers said...

I hardly think that an "oblivious 11 year old" could have provided you with such an indelible memory of worry about your parents. She sounds like she was a highly sensitive 11 year old in the context of the memories of hard times and concern for her parents that she carries for you at this season. I'm happy that you had a chance to hear from her.

Knowing what I know now, I marvel at what my mother was able to pull out of Santa's sack for us each year. It cannot have been easy. Probably the only way to discharge the debt of gratitude is to pay it forward. You should stop by "The Bloggess" and read about what Jennifer and her community of readers/commenters have been doing to spread around some Christmas cheer. You would like it a lot.

Happy Holidays and continued good writing about Christmas memories past!

(word verif: me/ness Ha! Ha! Ha!)

Habebi said...

Sarah- Bless your dear father's heart. I think one of the reasons I love Christmas so much is that it reminds one that giving is more than just a seasonal thing, it's a year around deal. Parents do it in spades, and many others give in small and large ways. I love that attention is called to that, even amongst all the hubbub of the shopping, decorating, feasting, etc.

I for one am more than appreciative of your father's sacrifice and hard work. Sometimes we have to work through very hard moments to get to the good stuff that life has to offer.

I hope you all are beginning to unwind from school and rest up for Christmas festivities!

Habebi said...

Pliers- You had me in tears my friend, thank you. I often downplay what I thought and felt as a child because I was so young and as the cliche goes, blissfully ingnorant of many things. You reminded me that there is legitimacy to my younger self's wonderings, concerns, and emotions. Thank you for that. I have to learn to give that little girl more credit. She went through a lot and deserves that acknowledgement.

I wondered over to The Bloggess and again was in tears. That is what giving is about and I'm beyond moved that people are helping provide that Christmas magic and love for strangers. I must post a link to that site and spread the word about the Christmas cheer going around.

Thank you for the holiday wishes and I send the same to you! I will continue going on about Christmas memories and hopefully with more detail than yesterdays as now I'm on break and the mental fog is lifting.