Fizz-lite Holidays

Hello my loves,

Last night, my son’s preschool had their annual Christmas program. Our kids have gone to this school since my daughter was two, so this is our fifth straight year of this festive jaunt. I wasn’t in the mood last night, I really wasn’t. I wanted to not have to wear pants and stay in bed and it was raining and cold and blah.

But we got the lad dressed in a sweater and jeans, our daughter threw together an outfit that looked like her dress-up box threw up on her, but that was fine because she’s a kid and kids can so rock that look. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Hubs was still rocking his work look.

We got the the church (it’s a Christian preschool) and oh my god everyone was dressed up like Jesus himself was coming for the show. Like, full-tilt holiday gear. Girls were in frilly red dresses. Men were in suits. The little boys had shiny dress shoes on.

And there’s my son in jeans and shabby Spider-Man sneakers.

And there’s me in a Firefly t-shirt that says CAPTAIN MAL’S BIG DAMN GUARANTEE. In church. Surrounded by children.

(In my defense, I didn’t realize my shirt said that until I looked down in horror at my clothing.)

So, I kept my coat on and tried to ignore how trashy I felt surrounded by all the holiday cheer. The program went great, the kids were adorable, my son like, rocked that show. Very super cute.

When we got home and the kids were in bed, I felt all deflated. Every year since the kids were born, I’ve gotten them each a Christmas outfit for these shows, and then to rewear to all the holiday parties. I didn’t this year. I didn’t even sort of make it a priority.

“When did my ‘give a shit’ break?” I asked him.

I was really sad. I’m not like, Mommy on the Spot with things. I don’t make my own gingerbread cookies, I don’t have a spotless house, I don’t wake up at five AM and have cartoon birds braid my hair. But I do love the holidays and have our little traditions that I get super excited about.

Not this year, though.

And I laid awake all last night, tossing in turning in bed wondering where the hell my Give a Shit up and went.

I finally realized; it’s because we are poor as fuck.

I know, you’re not supposed to talk about this stuff. It’s frowned upon, it’s classless, it’s whatever.

But, okay. Do you ever read those stories about those people who were living perfectly normal lives and then some weird thing happened, usually a medical crisis, and then everything just fell apart and then a few months later they were living in their car and still wondering WTF happened?

I always wondered how people got from Point A to Point B in those scenarios.

We aren’t living in our cars, just FYI.

After my own health crisis at the beginning of August, I didn’t realize how quickly things would shift. Once everything started snowballing, in the middle of September, we were like, “Okay, so we will cancel cable.” but by the middle of October, it was like, “Okay, we don’t have groceries…”

Like, *that* fast.

I don’t think we will get to the living in cars stage. In a few months we should be back on our tootsies and doing fine. That’s the plan, anyway.

But man is this all putting quite the poo-cloud on the holidays. Our daughter’s birthday is also this Saturday. The timing of financial woe and health shenanigans is wildly inconsiderate.

The kids don’t understand that things are sort of a nightmare in that way. They get that money is a thing we don’t have right now. Which breaks my heart that they get that, but you know, it’s reality and kids do need to see that.

But like, last night, daughter was talking about the beautiful red velvet dress she wanted to wear to her own Christmas program next week, and how she would wear it when she sees Santa. And she described in great detail what she was dreaming of. And I swear you guys, if I explained it to her why we can’t afford it, she would totally understand, but I just wanted to cry.

And then my son went into equal detail about how he wanted a dress just like that but that looked like Donatello from Ninja Turtles. I’m tempted to track this down when money becomes available some day.

It’s our *thing* guys. We do it every year! She loves this time of year. Her birthday is the thirteenth, the Christmas programs hit, Santa visits, all the things. It’s like, December is her month.

And this year, it’s all, “Oh hey, let’s not go anywhere and eat another box of mac and cheese for the third time this week, yes? DOESN’T THAT SOUND LIKE FUN!?”

We aren’t ever supposed to talk about money. No, we are supposed to prance around pretending like we all have bulging 401Ks and giant savings accounts and nothing ever, ever goes wrong and we never have any troubles at all.

But I don’t think that’s true. I think a lot of us are having shitty, craptastic years. This year has been a real prick on my end, I don’t know about you guys.

And honestly, I’m feeling all exposed even writing this. And y’all know, I don’t have a lot of boundaries on here.

But no one wants to feel like they are letting their kids down, or giving them less than they deserve because Mommy’s heart went swerve-y.

Ugh.

I don’t mean to sound all whiny (said the very whiny person) but man, this is weighing on the brain a lot. I’m not getting a lot of sleep, you know? And it’s not something you can just randomly drop in conversation to someone when they ask how it’s going.

“How are you, Summer?”

“Oh, hi! I had to dig nickles out of the bottom my desk drawer to buy a gallon of milk to last until payday! I’M FUCKING FANTASTIC.”

See? Not very conversational. Bit awkward, really.

Sometimes we just need to twist the vent and let out some steam. So that’s what I’m doing. Maybe if I let enough of that pressure out, I’ll be able to friggin’ sleep at some point.

The holidays are hard sometimes, for all sorts of reasons. They are a hella tricky when you barely have money for food, let alone gifts for the people you want to give gifty things to.

I know that’s not what the holidays are about. Indeed, I do. But that still doesn’t make the sudden thrust into financial impotence any easier to grasp.

So, to all of you who are having a great year, who are having the merriest of holidays, I hope you get every last drop of cheer out of them!

For those of you who are feeling a bit sparse in the jolliness department this round, I feel you. Let’s hug it out.

I can’t make money fall from the skies, although that would be a cool ass trick, and guys, I would make it RAIN.

But I can watch Elf with my kids 782 times. I can snuggle up with our critters and tell stories. I can rebuild our Christmas tree eleventy thousand times because cats are jerks and keep knocking it down.

This will probably be a Christmas I look back on and want to forget. This whole year has been that way, honestly. But despite all the wonky hearts and broken brains and other ridiculousness, I’ve got some of the best stuff ever underneath that. My family is pretty damn adorable. I’ve got wonderful friends that I can’t possibly deserve. Our crittersย are awesome. So fluffy.

And you guys. Thanks for always dropping by. I dig yer faces.

Happy Holidays, folks.

Also, please accept this GIF of Benedict Cumberbatch as an otter for the purposes of counteracting this bummer of a blog post.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Tis the Season

15 Comments

  1. I totally cried for you after reading this, Fizzy, and I could relate to it! Last year was my total sucky year! It all ended with an Ice Storm that almost killed me and MR N. I swore to never let that sh*t happen again!

    Money is something that we aren’t supposed to talk about and yet we all go through bad times. It’s reality and I thank you for bringing it to light.

    Get all that turmoil out of you and release it so you can get some sleep! You’re a fantastic mommy and trust me, your kids won’t remember it. You make life FUN with all glittery capitals. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Find what brings you giddy joy and cling to that this holiday season! ๐Ÿ™‚ For me, it is listening to Christmas music and watching awesome Christmas movies/shows/specials! ๐Ÿ™‚

    *GIANT HUGS*

    MRS N

  2. *hugs* Having no money sucks. I joke about being broke because I work for nonprofits, but for me, being broke has mostly meant I have to skip eating out a couple of weeks when times get tight.

    I remember when it didn’t mean that. When I was a kid, my dad’s company closed. Just closed and bam, that was it, my dad’s really well-paying job was gone. They offered to pay him to stick around clearing out the offices and warehouses of all the old stuff, and he took that offer because what else was he going to do? He had a wife and kid to feed. My mom started working part-time as our church’s janitor.

    My Christmas that year? Stuff my dad took from the Dumpster at the company he’d spent about 10 years happily employed at.

    But you know what? That’s the Christmas I remember best from my childhood (aside from the year I peeked at my presents early and made my mom cry, but we won’t talk about that). But my point is, my dad took 3-ring binders from the Dumpster and he cut out pictures of horses and used clear contact paper to make me custom “Trapper Keepers”, and I still have those things. I got waitress order pads (Dad worked at a food & restaurant distributor) and spent months pretending to take food orders before every meal. I got a tape deck someone had left in their desk. It didn’t record, but that was my very first music player.

    I’m sure that was a horrible Christmas for my dad. I know he had to feel like a failure. But he still gave me stuff from his heart. Stuff that he carefully selected for me or made for me. And honestly I have no memory of how I reacted at the time. I don’t remember if Mom prepared me in advance that Christmas was going to be lean. No clue.

    But I remember that Christmas as one of my best Christmases. And for someone who obviously loves her kids as much as you do, I promise that’s what matters.

  3. Sending you immense hugs, Summer! I know how scary it can be to talk about the ‘stuff we’re not supposed to talk about’ so I wanted to let you know how accepted and supported you are. Wishing you immense Christmas joy surrounded by family, and good fortune in the new year! <3

  4. Hugs & love-wishes from across the ocean hun.

    I’m going to share with you because the “kids don’t understand” from my experience is what parents think – not kids.

    I’m a December child, which means my birthday is also just before Christmas – as is mum’s (one day apart). Just before my 9th birthday (which made my twin brothers 7 an my youngest brother 5 1/2) my parents, wanting a bigger house (my Nana also lived with us) sold their small 3-bedroom to buy a bigger 4-bedroom on a big block.

    Everything was going fine. Mums wages weren’t high but dad’s were & he’d been with the same company for almost 8-years & had a great reputation.

    So they went from an almost no-mortgage to a massive mortgage, but you know, 2 incomes & what not. Except, 2 months in, dad’s work decided to lay-off a lot of it’s workers – including dad. Now we had only mum’s less than average wage, a bigger mortgage and seven mouths to feed. That was November. In Australia the school year starts in Feb.

    My parents didn’t know what to do. My birthday, Christmas, school fees … etc + a massive mortgage. So they decided to tell us the truth. Me & the twins already knew St. Nick was mum & dad and my youngest Steve was suspecting also.

    Mum & dad sat us down & explained what had happened – honestly & in terms we understood. They told me they couldn’t afford to buy me anything for my birthday & they told all 4 of us there would be “no presents this year.” It was such an honest discussion & I remember it completely vividly, & I am so glad my parents trusted us to “understand”

    My birthday & Christmas came & went. It wasn’t like all the others. There was less food on the table. There were no real trips to anywhere (cost of running the car) & the following (school) year, mum & nana somehow recycled our uniforms so that they’d fit.

    About 4-months later dad was offered his old job back & it took about one year to get back on track – but that Christmas will remain with me & not because I didn’t have presents but because my parents had faith in us understanding & they treated us like little adults.

    I’m not suggesting you go all that way, but honestly, kids are smart. They know something’s up & because they are smart they come up with the craziest ideas. The truth (or as much as you feel comfortable with) will set you and them free of guilt and thinking the worst.

  5. I moved across country a year ago and have been without a job since I moved (with family). We have been there and are still there with pasta more times then I can count. It’s hard on kids but they are resilient ones of the things I did was make an Advent Calender with free stuff we could do as a family and yeah, it’s not the same as buying stuff but it makes a memory. Making glitter ornaments for the tree, dyeing homemade play dough (or the peanut butter kind you can eat). Kids dream big but it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent because you can’t get them what they want. You could start a “Lets-go-to-the-movies jar by putting in nickels, dimes etc. until there’s enough (done that) or whatever you want to save for (make it doable not anything too grandiose). Hang in there! Thanks for being so honest.

  6. *squeeze-hug* This was so us 9 months ago–me unemployed, hubby doing his best, V-Day and the twins turning 2. God literally carried us from pay check to pay check. Sadly we turned to credit cards, so we could feed our kids and get gas, and now we’re doing well, we’re slaving away to pay off the CCs. ๐Ÿ™ But hang in there. I know this may be a sucky answer, but these are the days that I look back on and see God’s fingerprint on my life, and it makes me appreciate the good times so much more. I adore your heart and vulnerability and seek to mirror this in my own blog posts and writing. Know your writing touches us. <3

  7. 2013 was that year for me, and I didn’t have the added worry of kids or pets who also need feeding. I can’t even imagine how tough this must be for you.

    I think it’s incredibly brave of you to share this, and I’ll keep hoping that 2015 offers you and yours a fresh start.

  8. In 1991 my father’s employer decided they didn’t need accountants any more (they were wrong). We wound up living in my grandmother’s house that winter, while she was off in Florida. We had no money for Christmas gifts or our usual Christmas Eve feast of junk food. I still remember putting up a mini tree that we found in storage somewhere in my grandmother’s house (she had TONS of junk in her house and my mother’s therapy was disposing of a lot of it, burning a lot of it in big bonfires in the backyard – seriously I am shocked the fire department never turned up to ask WTH are you burning now woman?). I remember that Christmas being a bright spot in what was a very sucky year, because no matter what else was going on, or going wrong, we were all together and we were finding ways to have fun together even if there was no money. I’ll always treasure that memory.
    Your kids might not get the coolest toys or outfits this year, but if they’ve got you making the best of things – with extra Elf viewings or tree decorating or whatever – they will be blessed and they will have fun. They’ll make good memories, and so will you. When they’re older they’ll look back and think Wow – what a kick-ass, resilient family we were (and ARE).

  9. Feels like it’s been a rough year for everyone.
    We had a couple years like you’re having when I was little but I can’t remember ever being upset or disappointed. Your kids are smart and creative. We always got a large (750-1000) puzzle to do as a family when money was short. That, with Christmas movies, was so much fun. We did that all Christmas day. And should there be snow–fingers crossed–there’s sledding and snowman building.
    You are a super mom even when you don’t feel it and in twenty days we can put 2014 firmly in the past and forge ahead with the future.
    Now, onward!

  10. Summer,
    first of Hugs, second, put it all in God’s hands. He never promised up mansions and millions of dollars here on earth. but, he helps us get by as long as we trust in him. and i have had to do that a lot these past few years. i moved to arkansas just over 4 years ago, and have still yet to find a job. applied a lot, but only 1 interview, and nothing. my husband had a job for 3 years, but the company didn’t want to maintain the vehicles properly. so when he hit a pothole, and a tie rod broke, the wheel went wonky and he went on the shoulder. luckily no one was seriously hurt, but they fired him and blamed the accident on him. since then, he’s been hit or miss on finding work. but somehow, God always has found a way to get us through. we have a roof over our head, and food banks we can go to.
    so long story short, hang in there. make homemade crafts for decorations with the kids, and treasure the memories you make, because they will be real, and not the hyped up advertised toys they get and play with for a few days then discard.

    hugs, love and prayers for you.

  11. A short comment, because writing and reading, in response to your funny and heart-wrenching blog.

    Hug all the peeps and animals for me and then hug ’em some more.

    Also, Fuck! I quit my job, because I hated it and for once stood up for myself. No one showed up and said “Way to go, here’s some dough.” Woops.

    Don’t give up. You may not have money, but you’ve got what counts and you’re sharing it with the people you love.

    Heart your faces.

    P.S. If Twitch sent my partnership acceptance email to you by mistake, could you please pass it along. Thanks. ;P

  12. This is a very brave and heartfelt post. I don’t know you but I want to hug you.
    You’re right – there are things people don’t normally talk about and yet we all experience them to some extent. The worry, the fear, the feelings of helplessness.
    It has been a very sucky year – especially the back half. I can only hope that this is the bottom and it can only get better from here.

  13. I was lucky to hit my financial low-point before I had a kid. I remember that saving-nickels-to-buy-bread feeling and I can’t imagine pushing through with little ones in tow. Major hugs.

    I did recently have an I-suck-as-a-mom moment. Kiddo came home with a worksheet upon which she’d answered the last two pages with all zeros. Something was *wrong*. Was she not getting enough attention in school? Did she not understand the assignment? Was she angry or upset?

    Turned out it was the latter. That day the kids had to bring in the materials to make a collage and guess who’s mommy completely dropped the ball? The kids who didn’t bring anything had to do math worksheets (I am still angry with the teacher for that one).

    It didn’t matter that kiddo was out sick and I got the collage letter late, or that I was helping to plan a community Christmas event for kids and a brownies Christmas party (with hot chocolate buffet and popcorn buffet). All that mattered was that I had completely forgotten the collage and she’s the one who suffered.

    It’s really hard to keep everything on your radar.

  14. I don’t think you should feel embarrassed. I lived in public housing for three years after a divorce and a job loss. Rock this…we should talk about it more often. Good for you finding those nickels to get the milk! I’ve been squeaking out change to buy wine ๐Ÿ˜‰ I quit my job two years ago to deal with child health crisis and to give writing full time a whirl. We’re in similar circumstances. The kids don’t take it any better when they’re 17 and 18. You’re brave and your kids will remember that more than they’ll remember any rockstar Donatello dress…..although I think we should all rock that vomiting dress up box look adult or no.

  15. If you’d like, I sew. I have some maroon velvet that could make a Christmas dress for your daughter. I would need her size though. Lmk

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