When I was in 5th grade, Christmas was looking pretty much like hell. My mother was dying of cancer, bills were abundant, and my parents were miserable.
My parents friends and co-workers got together and bought us presents, all of us, dressed someone up as Santa Claus and showed up at our house one night. That was looking like a really hard Christmas, and thanks to the goodness of our community, our last Christmas with my mom was great! I remember tearing through presents, while my mom sobbed with happiness. As I got older, every year I’ve reflected on it and felt blessed.
A month ago, my ex left. When he left, he took things I’m still discovering are gone. I came home to an empty house, with a beat up couch, the freezer, 2 plates and some glasses left. I was given one month to get a replacement for the couch and freezer on top of trying to figure out how to afford pots and pans, lamps, tables, plates, utensils.. the list goes on. I had to figure out how to replace stuff I had taken for granted since my first apartment.. then pay my ex’s portion of the bills he flaked on. It honestly looked like Christmas was out of the question. My heart broke, not just because I was betrayed, but because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter a decent home AND Christmas presents.
So after I cleaned up the mess he left the night I got back home, I put Ashley to bed and sat on my kitchen floor and tried to figure out what I was going to do.
In the month since, I’ve found out horrible things about my ex, heartbreaking things, it’s been rough facing them, but this whole time? My family, friends, even people I haven’t seen in years, even people I’ve never met in person have rallied around Noodle and I. From couches to tables, to plates and silverware, pots and pans to hand towels started arriving or being dropped off. Books and pens, more cards than I can count. So while I covered bills, people who care about us covered what I needed, provided support and an ear. More recently.. presents. Noodle has received presents from family I haven’t seen in forever, and dear friends, I’ve gotten a few too. Hand delivered, fed exed, and left on my doorstep. I had managed to use what little money I had saved to get stocking stuffers and a few small things, but friends chipped in so I could pick out a few more.
A month ago I felt lost. I was worried, in tears and scared. Almost two decades after family and friends took care of my family the first time, it happened again.
The best part of everything that has happened? In one month, I went from feeling so incredibly sad and alone, to knowing I’m far from alone. In one month I learned how much people care for Noodle and I. I was lucky enough to watch a community rally behind us and stand with us, not once but twice. I am lucky enough to know, that while things will be rough for a little while, I know that we’ll be okay. I know that I have friends, that we’re not alone. I went from dreading Christmas to looking forward to it.
I think I learned the best Christmas lesson, twice. The world may be a scary place, but there are a lot of good people left. Knowing this, is the best Christmas present I could ask for.