Christmas came and went regardless of my being “ready”. We had plenty of food, plenty of presents, plenty of fun and love and not enough sleep. Just like every other Christmas that has come before this one.
The past couple of years have been pretty challenging for me. I lost a job, lost health insurance, lost a house, lost what I thought was my identity and had to start from scratch. It’s been rough and at times pretty humiliating and always depressing. I’ve had to depend on others when I had always been the one to give support. I haven’t seen doctors when I needed to and when I took a pretty bad fall this summer, I had to depend on emergency room care for help and could never afford a follow up. It was months before I was back to normal. Financially, I’m barely able to afford to take care of what I need to care of. All of this has given me a sharpened perspective on life.
I’ve always been a pretty liberal person, and have never believed in drug testing or anything like that for state or federal aid. But now I’ve gotten pretty vocal about it. People do, through no fault of their own, fall on hard times and in the current economy, the situation can turn from bad to worse very quickly. Even when you do all the right things, like “save for a rainy day”, invest in your future and the like; if you find yourself without a job, and your unemployment runs out and your savings runs out and your house is worth less than you paid for it, then hard times descend pretty quickly.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to live with my daughter and her family and I have a little part time job to help keep the ship afloat. But when I hear others talk down about people on food stamps or health care aid or other such programs, now I speak up. LOUDLY. Because while I’m sure there are some people who take advantage of the programs, there are so many more who are helped by them. The programs fill a gap that would leave otherwise good people in terrible situations. What happened to me could so easily happen to someone else. And I’m too far away from official retirement age to look for help from social security.
So while this Christmas was just like every one before it in so many ways, it was different in one very meaningful one. I’m very grateful. Grateful for my loving family and friends, grateful for part time jobs and really grateful to know there are programs out there that can lend a hand if I need it.
I hope you had a great Christmas too!
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