Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wrapped up for Christmas

Last night, we took an inventory of the gifts – our version of checking the list twice.

Unbelievably, I’m short a few.

Which is insane, because my list is crazy-short this year. Pretty much just our family, plus four.

I mean, seriously. How hard can this be?! The Lady My Mother managed for years to keep track of a gift list that included all kinds of cousins and in-laws and friends and their kids and ohmygah, Santa should have hired her because she could make a list and check it twice like nobody else in the world.

And yet I’m sitting here three days before The Day, going, …oh crap…I forgot my niece and nephew and those two $10 things for that gift exchange at the 4H meeting…

And for a little while this morning, I was feeling pretty darned sorry for myself.

But then I opened up Quicken a few minutes ago to check my budget balance, and got the kind of smack upside the head I wish everybody out there could have right now.

I’ve got crisp black numbers in my household checking account. There’s money left over, and you know what? Compared to the last couple years? I’d go so far to say there’s plenty of it…because I’ve got a gift that at least 16.9% of my neighbors don’t have: A paycheck.

If we were able to count all the folks who have been looking so long they’ve dropped out of the system, or given up, or taken part-time work or significant pay cuts just to be bringing something in, I’m sure the tally would be much, much higher.

I actually have a more generous budget this year than last.

I “get” to go to the dentist later this morning. Oh goody…but you know what? I’ve been putting this work off for months, chewing on the other side of my mouth and so forth, because I just couldn’t seem to scrape that cash together. (I broke a tooth.) (I don’t care to discuss it.) (OK, OK…it was an atomic fireball. YES, I know you’re not supposed to bite on them. I’m not sayin’ it was my brightest move ever.)

But now I have it, and I was able to make an appointment, so hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy Christmas without that tooth a) throbbing and b) threatening to shatter the rest of the way every time I bite into something.

It’s the little things in life that matter, you know? Things like chewing without fear, or getting through a day without thinking, Damn, that tooth is throbbing AGAIN…

And after the dentist, I can go to the mall on my way home (whether or not I feel like it being another question entirely) and get the stuff I want to fill up the holes under our tree.

A lot of people out there this year would love to have my problems.

Shoot, a lot of people would love to have the problems I’ve had these last two years. Things got bad and things got worse, but somehow we kept the ship afloat. We didn’t go into foreclosure, we didn’t lose “everything,” we still actually have some retirement savings left and while we may be maxed out, we’re not down-n-out.

And you know what else?

We’re still laughing. We’re still loving. We’re still all together and having fun.

I’ll admit it: I still smile when I hear my husband’s voice when he comes home after {gasp!} ten whole hours apart (which is rare these days), and sometimes when I look at him he’s just so gosh-darned handsome I can’t believe he’s mine.

Sick, huh? You’d think the blush would be at least a little off the rose, after thirteen years of marriage, four kids, mortgage, minivan, etc. etc. etc.

When I think of all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, that kind of astounds me. Statistically speaking, we’re really outliers. You take any one of the nasty surprises we’ve had and look at how often a marriage disintegrates into an ugly ball of accusations, and we’re in a tiny, but happy, minority.

Combine them all in one, and honestly…I’m afraid to know what the statistical likelihood that we’d still be as tight a unit as we are would be.

And yet here we are. Getting through it one step at a time. Together. Through good times and bad…although the more I think about it, the more I realize that even our bad times are better than some folks have.

It’s not just the immediate family, either. We’ve been blessed with a clan of true-blue friends, with a network of kith who stand by us, put up with us, support us through thick and thin.

The kind of people who respond to, “Can I ask something of you?” with a single word: “Anything.”

I think it’s rare to have even one friend like that – and we have many.

Furthermore…I’ve got you. I’ve often said I have the best blog readers ever. I really believe it’s true. I read the comments left on other blogs sometimes and I think…wow…what a rotten thing to say, what a horrible judgment to be making, what a dirty low-down crummy wad of venom to spit at somebody who is obviously having a vulnerable moment out here in the Wild Wild Internet…

And you guys don’t do that. I don’t think I’ve ever had a purely nasty comment made here by someone who wasn’t a random Anonymous obviously bent on being a troll; certainly nothing that doesn’t fall squarely into the Corrective Criticism category, which is hardly the same as Pure Meanness.

I’m awfully grateful for that. You make this a comfortable place for me to share stuff that, let’s face it, isn’t always all that pretty. Hi, I’m a bashed up cackled with Issues! Also I’m probably certifiably nuts! Here! Look at this picture of my nasty living room, which really needs a good cleaning and decluttering! And I have this nutty idea that I totally think might be workable! Let me tell you all about it, in fourteen pages of wildly digressionary prose… (I think I just invented the word ‘digressionary’. SCORE!)

So…thanks. Thanks for being here, and sticking with me while I struggled to hold onto the funny and keep my head from exploding and my emotions from running off with the rest of me.

It’s mattered. More than you can possibly know.

Anywho. It’s 6:04 a.m., and I’m going to sign off on this machine so I can boot up my work laptop and get started earning the paycheck that is supposed to be deposited on Christmas day yes way!

…go ahead, tell me there’s no Santa Claus…


RobinH said...

Happy Holidays to you and your Denizens, Tama, and thanks for sharing the good, bad and crazy. As always, you rock!

Steph B said...

Love how you talk about your hubby...Jon and I have been together for 23 years now, and we're still crazy about each other. Every day I wonder how I got so lucky. Hope all you folks have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas!

Marty52 said...

Thanks for keeping the funny going! It's been 35 years for my hubbie and me and I still can't wait to get home and see him at the end of the day. Through thick and thin (some very thick and some way thing) we've managed to keep it together. Having fun is a key part of our lives together... I think you have plenty of that going on in yours. Have a very Merry Christmas and a most hopeful New Year!!

Marty52 said...

That should be "way thin." Sheesh!

Emma said...

Happy Christmas to you and your chicks. It's always a pleasure to read your posts, even when I sometimes think you are crackers ! Just as you make your own luck [to a degree] you make your own happiness. Be happy ! All the best for 2010.

Siercia said...

Wishing you and your's the merriest of Chistmases and happiest of new years!

Your posts are almost always a sure thing to make me laugh, think or both. It's no wonder to me that you've carved out a nice corner of the interwebs for yourself.

Unknown said...

It works both ways you know! On the days when I'm up to my knees in kiddy-debris, with abandoned shoes, Barbie limbs and notes from school (that I should have read and acted on last week) and I'm just a teensy bit on edge and about to lock myself in the larder and rock back and forth for a while, I come and read your blog.

It is wildly comforting to know that I'm not alone on the brink of insanity and there are other working mothers out there who aren't simultaneously juggling kids with work with a sparklingly shiny and clean and tastefully decorated home like they are on the TV.

So I'm not the only one with peanut butter on my trousers and mismatched shoes who's lost her keys ten minutes after she should have left the house. Thank goodness! And Thank You!

Louiz said...

Happy Christmas and good luck facing the last minute crowd for those last presents.

I always get a smile from your blog, whether it's a wry "oh good, someone else does that" or a big belly laugh smile at a funny...

And my verification word is nosenest, which is making me giggle right now.

Science PhD Mom said...

Merry Christmas to you & yours! We are the same, I thought I was all done and then my in-laws asked me to do some last minute shopping for them, for my parents, who sent a box of presents to them (which they weren't supposed to do). Oh well, it seems inevitable that my husband or I will be running around getting last minute things before Christmas. Good luck braving the teeming throngs and hope you get what you need on the first pass!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Tama!


SarahSom said...

Tama you give me so much joy in so many ways. I love reading about your life that you claim is slightly wacky but you clearly can hold things together. You can write about it in such a way that I can smile while knowing that, were I actually living what you do, it wouldn't be half so funny. Please keep finding space in your space-time continium to keep writing. My great fear is that you won't have enough time to keep us all in stitches.

Anonymous said...

I read your entry yesterday and was patting my self on the back that except for cookies I was all done. This morning I realized that I had taken a too big gift back and had never gotten the replacement AND that the party tonight is an hour earlier and my cookies may not be done in time. Merry Christmas. arghhhhhhhhhh

marit said...

Happy Holidays!
I look forward to every new entry from you- and Ihope you find the time to keep it up! May 2010 be an even better year for you all:-)
Take care.

PipneyJane said...

Merry Christmas Tama, to you and yours. And God Bless.

- Pam (grateful for internet friends like you)

Anonymous said...

Tama - I so enjoy reading your blog and trying to figure out how you fit all you do into a day! Thank You for making me laugh, think harder about my finances and everything you do! And I fell into reading you through the Yarn Harlot!