There was something wrong with me this holiday season.Â I know it, but I don’t know exactly what it was.Â Nothing felt “right”Â nothing seemed to fit quite as it should (I don’t mean clothing smart ass), and it was all rather uncomfortable.Â I am actually quite happy that the majority of it all is now in the past, and I can hope for a better mood next year.
I know to stop and appreciate everything I have.Â I am very fortunate.Â And I was able to at least recognize that this year. Â In my head anyway.Â It still just never felt right.Â By all weights and measures, this should be a dream, but it wasn’t.Â Yet 5 years ago should have been a nightmare, and that may have been one of the best years ever.
5 years ago, I was working at Toys R Us because every dang technology company seemed to not have any openings after everybody that got laid off between the Dot Com Bust and the mess of 9/11.Â Those that did have positions, would not hire me me because I had too much experience and they were sure I would bolt as soon as the economy got better.Â So instead I was working 60 hours a week at Toys R Us, busting my ass for way too little money.Â We were financially struggling to survive.Â IRAs and 401Ks emptied.Â No savings left.Â We were just trying to find a way to hold onto the house.
Xmas that year was obviously going to be a difficult one for presents.Â But LatteGirl was 2-1/2, and this was the first Xmas LatteGirl really fully understood Santa Claus and presents.Â We couldn’t just “skip” Xmas.Â So, I took every hour of overtime that they would give me.Â I would rummage through the items that were going to hit the clearance tables to see what bargains I could find that I might be able to afford.Â Meanwhile, the rest came from a few rummage sales and a few visits to several different dollar stores looking for items that weren’t junk quality.
By the time Xmas morning rolled around, we had a decent “stack” of presents from Santa, that looked like a lot, but in the end cost us less than $40 total.Â While in some ways I felt bad, and swore to myself that we would never go through that again, it was still quite a Xmas.Â LatteGirl was still thrilled with what Santa gave her, we had a great day, and everybody was happy.
This Xmas by comparison was easy.Â Thanks to the extra week between Thanksgiving and Xmas, I had most presents bought and they were wrapped ahead of time.Â This was the first Xmas in I don’t know how long that I wasn’t doing something that required me to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, such as baking or assembling one of Santa’s gifts, etc. Â This year LatteGirl seemed to learn to actually stop and look at what she got when she opened each present rather than unwrapping, tossing on a pile to get to the next present to be unwrapped.
I’ve had signs.Â In one case literal, a snarky billboard (or more precisely a picture of a billboard) that I saw somewhere, had the saying on it, “Santa Likes Rich Kids Better.”Â Or some excellent blogging, like this wonderful post by Whit that really made me think.Â And yet, you would think that after only 5 years, I would remember how tough I had things then, and would be thrilled, and yet I am not.
I know somewhere in here I am supposed to put the requisite message that money can’t buy happiness and all that.Â But while true, it is just a bit too clichÃ©, and I am feeling too grumpy today to be clichÃ©.