A little less than a week ago, amid requests to buy a Christmas tree and to go up to my sister’s home in northern California for Christmas, not to mention growing gift lists, I had to come clean with my girls. Christmas isn’t going to be like the Christmases they are used to. I have put everything I have into publishing and marketing my writing this year and as favorable as the reviews have been, that has not transferred into financial stability. Add to that a photography business that is struggling and you have a recipe for disaster. So I explained that there was no money for a tree and that I didn’t know what gifts were going to be given this year. I have promised them that when these books of mine begin selling in earnest, regardless of the time of year, we will have Christmas, but for now we have to scale back. The 15 year old took it in stride, but my younger daughter was less than pleased.
“No tree?” she questioned, reasoning that it wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree.
“We could make one,” I said.
And just like that, she was into it. She went to the dollar store and with just a few dollars she came back with straws, glue, some green paper, and small Styrofoam balls for ornaments. With just a tube from a roll of wrapping paper for our trunk we got to work. I have been overwhelmed by how positive and upbeat both girls have been. They have made me incredibly proud. That is, until today. Today, three or four days into a bad head cold, my youngest has had enough. Unfortunately, the way in which she expresses her frustration is to be an unpleasant, demanding shrew. She wants what she wants and she wants it now!
The tree has become much more time consuming than I ever could have imagined and it’s not looking as great as we had hoped. The straws, even re-enforced with paper mache, have a tendency to collapse. Things that should be simple take twice as long as they should, and the few dollars we have are all going on bills and towards the gas that it will take to drive the 400 or so miles up to my sister’s later this week.
So, the inevitable blow up erupted this evening. My daughter was upset, I was upset, she yelled and I yelled back because yes, it’s hard. These are incredibly trying times for everyone, and we all have a right to be miserable and depressed and even angry, but what good does that do?
Yelling and fighting are not going to create some kind of miracle and make everything alright. I am doing my best and that’s really all that I can do. Am I sorry that things are rough this year? Sure I am, but I also believe with every fiber of my being that things are going to improve. Going without a few presents for one year is not going to destroy anyone. There are people worse off than we are and so, in the end, as much as I’d like to be making a ton of money and selling millions of books right now, I am beginning to suspect this is a lesson we all need to learn. We have each other and in the end, that’s all that matters.