Whine and Prayer

November 11, 2012

It started the week before Halloween and I think it’s only going to get worse with the holidays coming.

I went to IParty with my nine year old daughter for the annual search for just the right Halloween costume. I knew when we went I had a limited amount to spend but I’d heard somewhere they were having a Huge Sale, (that intel might have actually come from Katy, my daughter, not a good go to source for the latest in discounts.)

The costumes ranged in price from $20 to $50 dollars, with the lower priced ones were not much more than a polyester sheath accompanied by various cardboard/plastic props.

We don’t have $20 bucks to spend for one night, we don’t have $20 to spend on a pair of jeans right now.

So I checked out Goodwill. I came home with a devil costume, it probably came straight from IParty, plastic trident, plastic horns, a shiny red gown. Katy wasn’t interested; whether it was because she recognized the bag it came in and decided casts offs weren’t going to cut it, or she just wasn’t feeling particularly demonic, I don’t know. Our next door neighbor loaned her her costume from last year. My daughter went out this year as pirate. I had to spring for a $3.00 eye patch from CVS, Thankfully, that was in our budget.

I went to Walmart for candy and spent more on 5 bags of KitKats than I do dinners to last us a weekend. I’m not ready to be the person that shuts off the lights. I parked about a mile away from school that week, saved about $30 on what it costs to park at the garage.

That was Halloween. Now, we are heading,  we are crashing towards Christmas. I have no idea how I’m going to pay for a Christmas tree, much less put many presents underneath the damn thing. I have a twelve year old as well, and twelve year olds have expensive tastes.

We live in a pretty well off New England town. We chose this spot because it’s close to the city, because it’s right in the middle of the woods, the schools are good, the people are smart, there are lots of dogs, and parks,  and there is a really, really big swimming pool in the center of town where we swim all summer under the pine trees.

Most of the time I’m thrilled with our corner of the world. Sometimes it’s tough when Colin watches his friends go off to practice for a basketball league we can’t afford. Or when I had to explain to Katy that a birthday party was out of the question, the best I could do was take her and her best friend for mani pedi’s.

You know what?  Colin points out that he likes having the time to stay on top of his homework and that he can keep his skills sharp at the park down the street.  And Katy swears her afternoon with Tue was the best birthday ever.

Maybe all these tough times have something to do with the two incredibly kind children I get to share my life with. They tell me they know things will get better. They tell me they know I do my best. And when they have given me my faith back, and I’m smiling again, I tell them just how lucky we are to have each other.

Sometimes, all of us telling each of us how lucky we are is not enough. When I feel it’s time, I sign up for a shift at Father Bill’s, a local shelter about a mile away. Sometimes we need to stand behind that counter and see the faces of the people in long lines, standing or shuffling in a line on the other side of the counter.  Some of the people seem permanently broken, they don’t  look up from their plastic tray or the floor or their shoes, they mutter under their breath, or say nothing at all. A lot of them are really, really happy to see us, many of them remember Colin and Katy’s names. They welcome us back and ask how we’re doing in school. Some people just smile as they hold their plates out, meet my eyes, and smile so big and warm, I never feel like my smile is enough.

We need to make sure we spend a lot of times doing whatever we can do this holiday season. We need to make a point of going to Father Bills’s and where ever we can help all year long. My family and I live in a town with a lot of haves, and once in a while I start to feel the stigma of being a member of the have nots. This is a choice that I make, and it is not a choice I am proud of.

I need to be mindful that while I am a part of the this small town in New England where so many have so much, I am grateful that we are welcomed into their midst. Our neighbors  and friends are generous in one more ways than one.

But even more important, I need to remember that I am part of a much larger community. I share this earth with many, many people without homes, or hope of living another month, or carrying the grief of loss. I am part of a family of people that share the world, and we all have and we all have not, and we have all been young, and we are all, (or most of us) going to get old. And I will try to celebrate that for right now, I’m alive and I’m sharing my life with some of the most amazing people I have ever known. And I’ve been around awhile.

Amen.

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