Wow. This is going to be a tough one to write. This is a secret I’ve been keeping hidden from the majority of the people who know me. It’s not something I’m proud of and something that, even now thinking back on, causes my eyes to instantly well up in tears. But for some reason, I feel compelled to share this story today and I don’t know why – but here it goes.
I would go out on a limb and say that most people will face some sort of a hard time at some point in their lives. Because of this, I know that I am not alone here and that my hardship is no more difficult than anyone else’s. In fact, I can guarantee there are people with worse circumstances. However, today I wanted to share my story because this particular moment of time in my life, several years back, opened my eyes to one of the most precious life lessons I’ve ever learned. And I still need a little reminder of it once in awhile.
Twas the Week Before Christmas. .
So I’ll set the story stage. It was my daughters second Christmas. We were a young married couple. My husband worked and I stayed at home to take care of the family. We were living moderately in an old, blue Sears home that creaked and cracked with every step. It wasn’t much (and it was down wind of the city dump) but we were extremely proud of it. After all, it was our first home and we worked very hard to get it.
The holidays were only a week away. I had everything bought, wrapped, and we were caught up in planning our joyous holiday festivities. My husband only had a few more days to work until he was off for the holidays and we were excited to be able to spend some time with him. The next part of the story I don’t remember very well. I am not sure how he gave me the news or how I reacted at that moment, all I remember is that it happened; one way or another.
Since I can’t remember the exact details of that day, I’ll just tell you this: he lost his job. This was in a year of a terrible economy and we were not alone. This was something that was happening to a lot of hard working people. Like many others, my husband showed up to work and without any warning, he was told that his work had closed its doors for good. That was it.
“Sorry, there is no work here anymore. Go home. . . Oh, and Merry Christmas”.
It was a pill that was hard to swallow. We were left confused and angry. How could they do this? We were just starting our lives, starting to climb up that ladder of saving for the future and our feet were knocked out from beneath us.
We made it through the holidays and immediately started looking for work again. Unfortunately, like I said before, this was a time when many businesses all around us were closing their doors and many people were out of work. As the months went by, we did everything possible to hold on to our home and cars but when that was no longer possible, we decided to sell off the cars for just enough to pay off the loans that we had on them. It meant something to us to not have them repossessed.
We tried several times to short sale our house but the offers made by potential buyers were always turned down by the bank. Then the letter came that we were to turn in our keys.
We Were Homeless.
I remember wondering to myself, as we packed everything we owned up in boxes, where we would go next. At this point, we had no savings left to stand on. All we had were boxes of useless crap and each other.
The next year was tough but it was during that year that I learned one of my most important life lessons – to value relationships over money, pride or “stuff”. Because after we had spent all our money trying to stay afloat and found ourselves with no home of our own and no more food to eat – it wasn’t our “stuff” that comforted us. That “stuff” was all sold off or tossed away into my father-in-law’s barn to collect dust. It was useless.
Instead, what we found was that it was the people in our lives that gave our lives purpose and meaning. These people stepped up to feed us and give us shelter – one person even gave us the old car in their back garage so we would have mobility again. It was the people who hugged us and told us that it was going to be ok. It was our friends and family who stood beside us and didn’t judge us for what happened. This, my friends, is what matters most in life.
The People In Our Lives Are the Most Precious Gift of All.
I will admit, there are still times when I find myself wanting to put money and personal advancement ahead of relationships and I have to be reminded again that that isn’t what truly matters in this life. Because when all is said and done, I would give up everything that I own in this life all over again just to have the people that I love by my side.
Thank you for letting me share this story. I hope you all have happy holidays and please remember above all else to be kind to one another and cherish every day with the people you love.