Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Aaand then . . .

It's been a discouraging few days. We couldn't take the kids to Silver Dollar City last Sunday (a long promised event--tickets furnished by my aunt) because the transmission went out on the van. We helped them to understand why we couldn't go, but watching them hide disappointed faces didn't feel really good. By itself, this event was not that big a deal, but it's part of a long list of frustrations and is adding to a mounting sense of helplessness on my part. I can't keep all the balls in the air sometimes.

Both vehicles came up with problems within twenty-four hours of one another. Poor Gary was the one stranded both times. Just what we needed to strain on an already too thin holiday budget. Still, the fixes were relatively inexpensive and more or less manageable,though it's still money ear-marked for other things. The transmission repair was "only" a $100.00 and the Bronco's problem will cost about the same. I'm already trying to figure out how to feed us this week and make all bills and now I have to pay the mechanic.

Worries about Gary's job hang heavily over the both of us. We'll be without a pay check for two weeks at Christmas during the shut down (aka layoff). I am still angry with the company executive who assured the employees that the factory wasn't closing down by referring to having had record profits this year. I am amazed he didn't get mugged and beaten up in the parking lot. To tell this to a whole group of men and women who are barely making it on what the factory is paying them as it is, in a conversation about short-term lay-offs, had to be the penultimate peak of stupid. In a third world country, he would have been dragged from his throne and through the streets and stoned to death while everyone cheered.

Annnd then . . . yesterday I went in search of our Christmas tree in the shed and discovered that someone accidentally threw away the bag with the branches in it. I don't have the money for a new tree and I didn't quite know what to do. Sam, the youngest, has been begging me for days to put up the Christmas decorations. It seemed like such a small, simple wish to fulfill and I couldn't do it.

So, being female, what was the logical thing to do? Sit down and cry of course. I handled the automotive problems pretty well, have swallowed the worries about the factory, but I couldn't disappoint my kid again. The stupid tree became a symbol of everything that's going wrong.

Sam took it better than I expected; he's is like that--quick to accept disappointment and move on to other plans. "We'll borrow one or something, Mom," he said. "All I really wanted to do was put out your nativity scenes anyway." I collect these and they are a favorite part of decorating. We have seven or eight sets now.Sam in particular loves setting out each group of figurines and every year it is the same questions, "Where did you get this one from?" "Why did you like it?" and questions about the birth of Jesus. This hobby more than serves its purpose in that respect. A combination of seeing old friends and hearing favorite stories.

My sixteen year old, who was only too aware of the stress his parents are under saw my tears and quickly did what he could to help the mood by stringing lights around the livingroom, without my asking for his help. When he's not busy being a typical pain in the rear sixteen year old, he's a pretty good kid. The lights did a lot to make the room feel "Christmassy". The atmosphere shifted and they were soon looking through boxes for other items to decorate with.

My sister, who is in worse financial straits than we are, just showed up with a small Christmas tree for us to borrow, which I deeply appreciate, though it is half the size of "our tree". Ah well, we'll put it up on a box and cover the base with fabric and everyone will think it's the prettiest one yet.

I have the remains of a bottle of rum sitting in my kitchen cabinet that we've been working on since Thanksgiving (light drinkers are we). Maybe I'll finish it off tonight. How is rum in coffee?

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