My husband sent me an email yesterday, I wasn't expecting it and I new immediately that I had to share it. The hubbs, as I like to refer to him as, doesn't express a lot of thoughts or emotions, he has them, don't get me wrong, but he's a get-er-done kind of guy...he doesn't spend a lot of time standing still talking, he's a doer. So when I get a glimpe into his heart and mind, I'm always surprised and appreciative.
I've been wanting to write about our situation, but haven't figured out how to word things so that it doesn't sound like complaining or like we're looking for handouts....we're not. I think that "the hubbs" has done a beautiful job. So without further delay......I present you with a guest post by Bill Richie (aka the hubbs)
So this Christmas finds our family in a different place than we have ever been. It’s been 22 months since I was laid off from a company that I had worked at for nearly 20 years, the company I always thought that I would retire from. Fortunately, I was hired as a contractor and have been employed for about the past 9 months. Throughout the past 22 months, we have been fortunate enough to be able to pay all of our bills through receiving a generous severance package, NJ unemployment insurance, generous gifts and donations from friends and family, and my current contracting position. The most recent struggle has been with the fact that there has been and is no extra cash. So this Christmas we find ourselves without the “normal” Christmas celebration.
The “normal” Christmas for us has been to celebrate with a multitude of gifts for the kids under the tree, being able to provide an Angel Tree family with a Christmas meal and gifts for their kids, being generous in providing for others during this season, and being able to make multiple batches of Christmas cookies with our kids. Our normal family traditions have been to purchase Christmas pajamas for all seven of us, having a Christmas breakfast of cinnamon rolls (homemade or store bought), and enjoying the opportunity to celebrate with the extended family in the afternoon with an appetizer dinner.
This year is going to look different. It has to look different because we have nothing extra for all of those things. We have no cash set aside or saved for Christmas. We have no room on our one credit card (yes we only have one left). About a week ago we had a family over for dinner and during our discussions we ended up talking about Christmas and our financial situation (we are not embarrassed and not ashamed to talk about it, and we are not looking for donations either). In turn that family and two other families in their extended family decided to provide us with $300 in gift cards to Walmart. We took the time to go shopping and were able to buy each of our kids something for Christmas with that money but there is nothing left over. It is hard to split $300 between 5 kids but we did it. We are so grateful to that family for their generosity. It means the world to know that we have friends who care enough to make a sacrifice for us, even though one member in the family has recently lost a job as well.
My heart is broken by the things around us that are pulling for everyone’s attention this Christmas season – toys, lights, trees, presents, and decorations. My heart is broken by the events that are shaping this season too – the economic situation and the “fiscal cliff”, the tragedy in Newtown, CT, the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy, and the discontinuation of a long standing live nativity at a military base due to an atheist group’s complaints. I am torn on how to serve and how to provide for those that are struggling even though I myself am financially strapped.
Well this Christmas we are going to have to do things differently. Christmas is a time to celebrate. We need to celebrate the fact that we are able to be together, that we have good health, and that we have a Savior who has fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and cares for us. He loves us even when we don’t deserve it. We quarrel, complain and doubt out of the same mouth that we praise His name. We need to change our focus from internal and temporal to external and eternal. He came to give us freedom from the things that bind us, from the things that hold us back from fulfilling His promises for our lives. We are called to be His Ambassadors and His Disciples. We are called to serve those in need with our hearts, with our souls and with our talents. If we do not have the financial abilities to provide than we need to focus on what we do have that can be used for His purpose. This year our Christmas is going to be different. It has to be.
*Thank you, my dear husband, for sharing your thoughts and heart with us <3 Our situation has provided us with the challenge of accepting being stripped down from the chaos of the season and has offered us, instead an opportunity to really count "the gifts", the one's that truly matter <3
May your family be blessed this Christmas with quiet times to reflect on His goodness, I urge you to count your gifts as well, no, not the ones under the tree but those around it <3
God Bless <3 Bill and Lorraine Richie