A Mother’s Christmas Memory

My greatest Christmas memory happened 11 years ago but, it feels like yesterday. My husband had spent just over a year getting workman’s compensation after injuring his back on the job. Despite the pain/numbness he still felt, he was finally cleared to go back to work. He was a union drywall hanger. Anyone who has worked construction can tell you how heavy those sheets get after 8 hours, let alone after years of hanging. Unfortunately, a clean bill of health meant little to an apprehensive company and he was soon laid off due to “lack of work.”

So there my husband was; unemployed and with no savings. There was enough unemployment money to cover our bills but, barely enough to purchase food too. We were at that place, right between starving and making too much money for government assistance. It was a very bad year for our family!

Try as my husband did, it was becoming more and more difficult to find another company that was willing to hire him. Before we knew it Christmas was rapidly approaching and we were both distraught. How do you explain to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old that Santa isn’t real? How could we bear to see our children’s sad faces on Christmas morning?

On Christmas Eve, it seemed like a bad dream as I wrapped presents from the dollar store; all the while tears streaming down my sullen face. My mom, grandparents, and brother were all coming over for Christmas dinner. My husband had scraped together what little cash he could and we bought food for me to cook for all of us. I didn’t sleep all night, how could I sleep? I felt like a failure as a mother.

Early on Christmas morning before I could sit down and rest my bloodshot eyes, my children awoke. I wiped away more tears as they smiled blissfully at the pitiful presents under our puny plastic tree. Much to my surprise, the kids played merrily all day as I cooked what was surely to be our last feast.

Just as I finished cooking, my family arrived for Christmas dinner. My mom had brought a full bag of gifts for the children. I had to excuse myself from the room; I needed time to breathe deeply and to stop sobbing. My grateful husband walked around our house; looking for something, anything that he could give to my mom as a gift. Being broke reminded us all of the true meaning of Christmas. My husband and I gave all we had to give and in return we received the greatest gifts of all; unconditional love, a united family, and a very Merry Christmas!

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