She leaves work through the back door. Leaves the chatter of Christmas plans and lists. She’s dodged questions all day about her plans and what her children put on their lists. She’s not going to her work party because she doesn’t have anything to wear.
Her feet are aching from standing all day and the wind is a cold oppressor slapping her face like she doesn’t matter. She hides her hands in her coat sleeves with just a key sticking out to make the climb into her freezing car faster.
Her grocery store choices are in opposite directions. The expensive one is on her way home. Her fatigue wins and she pulls into the parking lot. Her ten dollar budget isn’t enough for the milk and peanut butter gluttons in her house. Food shouldn’t have to be so hard to come by.
She used to make cookies, candies, and pies to hug the holidays and all of it’s wrappings. They’re lucky to have a tree. What good is a tree that dwarfs the presents?
Why is this holiday so messed up? Who made the rules and why should kids think that Santa skips some houses while he overloads others?
She’s never believed in Santa. He’s not even part of her children’s lives at home, but it’s an unavoidable question in the hesitant dance of their eyes. Their excitement is touchable and they have no idea how hard it is on her.
She finishes her shopping, doubling her budget, and making her fight the guilt of overspending with the rebellion against being sorry for getting candy canes and fresh fruit.
Defiance clenches her jaw. ”We can at least have candy canes.”
Almost like an immediate reprimand, she was back under the cruel thumb of the wind. Only this time, the bags carrying her guilt drug her hands out of her sleeves of safety. She imagined the bitter cold making them old and worn. A poor woman’s hands.
That was the day she began having ‘the talk’ with herself. ‘The Talk’ that she is going to have to come to terms with who she is. The poverty is going to age her faster than her heart. She has reached her entire life. She has stretched past her circumstances out of the determined belief that she will, one day, have the life she wants. She has pushed herself beyond every boundary life has put in front of her, and now she wonders, “For what?”
“The Talk” was to weaken her hope so that she won’t be so disappointed and sad all the time.
Oh, she’s sad. All the time sad.
She smiles, genuinely, though. She has things to be happy about and she’s good at finding them. They help her catch her breath while she rests for the next lunge. She counts her blessings: Her kids. Her love. They have a warm roof. They have clothes that still work. They have shoes that still fit. They’re healthy and clean.
They have peanut butter and candy canes.
These are such good, good things. They’re the little things made big.
So, “The Talk” isn’t winning. It can’t when she takes it one day at a time. She learns something on her drive home. She learns it’s the little things that get you through the day. Disappointment takes a very long time to completely consume you. Disappointment can’t eat you alive today.
It’s always ‘today’.
If you can counter disappointment with the little things enough to get through today, then you are one day better off than you were the day before.
It’s not much, but it will get her through today.