Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Reason For The Season

Joshland Note: After this post, I am taking blogging break for the holidays. My heart needs to heal as does my body. No worries, readers! I will be back - rejuvenated and ready to write again. I am lucky, I am living, I am loved. Nothing else matters.

"We just don't have anything nice." ~ A statement I overheard from a woman walking out of well known retail store with 2 BAGS WORTH of toys/electronics and loading them into her huge, brand new SUV on 12/2/10

Tis' the season, boys and girls. The season of love, friendship, giving, and... complaining about not having nice things?!?! Come on, lady! NO NICE THINGS? Really?

Nice is such a subjective term. One man's trash is another man's treasure, or so the saying goes. What I might think is wonderful, you might think is "quaint"and quickly turn your nose up at it. What you might call a "life or death" item, I might call a waste of time and money, which would force me to smash a Boston Creme pie - the one that I keep on me at all times in case of emergencies just like this - right in your face, knocking some sense into you.

Thankfully, I feel like I've surrounded myself with people that appreciate and have worked HARD to earn the extra little luxuries. They are thankful and do not complain very often. I can't blame you if you do forget. Appreciation is such a simple thing lose track of during the stressful holiday season. Fortunately, because of my positivity/paranoia...I will never forget.

My wife and I are very lucky. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table, and a place to rest until the morning comes. We have some nice things, but I actually have a guilt complex about it. I have "buyer's remorse" no matter how big or small the purchase is. I have no sense of entitlement to anything I have. Don't misunderstand me, I most certainly have complained about not having "extras" or saying "I want this" or "I need that". If I said otherwise, I'd be lying. But I guess I don't feel like I deserve a lot of the stuff I have.

My reasoning?

There are people that have struggled with life so much more than I probably ever will...my sister, for example. I have an unquenchable guilt about that. Sometimes I wish Angie and I could've switched places because I think she'd have done a better job with her life than I have with mine. That's maybe not the best thought process and certainly not logical/rational/forseeable, but you watch your sister die from the same disease you have and see how well you cope with it. It's been 17 years and I still struggle with how I could have been a better brother and how I'd give anything to still have her here telling me what to do.

I've also seen terrible, horrible, life changing things happen in an instant. In May of this year, a high school classmate of mine was assaulted. Someone hit him and he struck the back of his head on the sidewalk when he landed on the ground, causing him to suffer a traumatic brain injury. After months of fighting valiantly to live, his family and friends laid him to rest in early December. Peaceful thoughts to you, your family, and your friends, Adam. Both of these examples are the things of life I do not understand and never will.

I feel like I've been lucky. Many times in life it's better to be lucky than good because - as I've said more than a few times - "Life is what happens while we're making other plans." (Actually, I believe John Lennon originated that quote, but let's not squabble over words right now. I'm trying to make a point and be all wise 'n' stuff. Stay with me...)


Sometimes (more often than I'd like to admit, really) I have vivid nightmares about the future. A time when we might lose our steady income or health insurance. I'd get really sick and we'd have to sell all of the stuff we've worked so hard for just to pay off our debts and not even come close to breaking even. A time where we'd live off of the kindness of others and move from house to house based on who'll tolerate us living with them the longest. Things would get so bad that we'd have to give up our dogs because we couldn't afford to take care of them anymore. Between bouts of sobbing, we'd work so hard to make sure they went to a loving family who would baby them as much as we do...or "did" in this case. I imagine my wife staying by my side, but I'd always feel guilty for putting her in this position. I know it could be her who gets sick (I certainly hope not!), but statistically, it will most likely be me (thank you CF) and that's the scenario that plays out in my nightmare. Other details weave in and out of this nightmare seamlessly, but essentially the end result is this:

We lose EVERYTHING and it is ALL MY FAULT!
Despite my best efforts, I am a bad person and a bad husband who can't even take care of himself, let alone his family.

A bed-quaking body shudder pops open my eyes where I lay, soaked in a pool of my sweat. My eyes sting from the salty beads that got stuck under my eyelids, proving it IS possible to cry in your sleep. I look to my right and there is my beautiful wife sleeping away, engulfed by a grey and blonde dog. To my blurry, stingy, eyes they look like a cute Muppet mutant. They are snoring that cartoon snore where one character whistles and the other two snort. (My wife does the whistling...you're welcome, sweetie. ;-)

I hop out of bed and snatch my semi-scruffy robe from it's hook in the bathroom, then head to the kitchen for some late night hot chocolate to calm my nerves. Reverting back to a childhood staple is one of the numerous ways I bring myself back to reality. The reality that we are going to be okay. That regardless of the paperwork, the medical forms, the fighting with insurance companies, and the inevitable future I've seen for myself far, far, down the road...I am okay. I am lucky. I need to remember that and treasure the tranquility of security because I am not entitled to it or any other things that come with it. No one is.

So I'll give the woman with the boatload of gifts the benefit of the doubt. She could have been having a bad day. Maybe she IS appreciative of her situation. Maybe it's a volunteer vehicle on a shopping spree for 'Toys for Tots'. MAYBE she's a volunteer who just lost her job and can't even afford to pay her heating bill this month, but is still helping others. I kind of doubt it, but I've been wrong before. LOTS OF TIMES. Either scenario - the quote at the beginning or the hypothesis I just stated above - makes me sad.

During this holiday season one or several of these things have happened or will inevitably happen to you:
  • You'll be so pissed off that you missed out on the one item you want so badly or that someone will give you the similar generic item without all the 'bells and whistles' you wanted. If you wanted actual bells and whistles, you'll get a trombone and use it as a hat rack for a year, consumed with anger every time you reach for your sombrero of choice.
  • Your Aunt Mildred will you gift you a shitty crocheted hat and mittens. Crocheted mittens and hats are normally great, but these things are just tragic looking. One ear flap will be longer than the other, the left glove will be missing a thumb, and they are a mix of "Pepto pink" and mucus green. You have to pretend to like them or your parent/significant other with disown you. Over the winter, you WILL see Aunt Mildred and will be forced to keep the shitty crocheted hat and one-thumbed mittens on you...just in case she asks to see you wear them.
  • It'll be -30 below windchill and you are out shopping for presents. You've ended up with the magical parking spot furthest away from the mall. It is so far away, you might as well have walked to the mall because you are parked 15 yards from your driveway. By the time you walk to the to the mall from your spot you can't feel your feet and spend more time trying to warm up than actually shopping. You have to go back again tomorrow because cyber-shopping is impossible thanks to the cyber-gamers who are hogging all the internet bandwidth in your house/apartment building/college dorm.
  • Someone will ask you when you are going to: get married/have kids/get a job/go to college. Perhaps they'll ask you why you: got divorced/lost your job/can't control your kids/couldn't have cooked something better or some other insulting/probing question and you say ('Insert the same thing you said to them at Thanksgiving' here).

Just remember...you are lucky to have whatever you have. Tomorrow it could all be gone. I know that everyone who reads my insignificant little blog understands what I'm trying to say. You love what you have in your life and share your success with others, be they big or small. Thank you for that gift of generosity you give all year round. It is special.

It is with all the sincerity and warmth in my heart that I wish you Happy Holidays, regardless of what holidays you celebrate. Be good to each other and love one another every day.

Peaceful Things and Happy Holidays To All,



  1. Great post. Looking forward to the next one you send out after the Holidays. Wishing you and your family much Peace and Happy Holidays as well.

  2. You and I are in a agreement about luck. It's good to have it.

    Very interesting post, my friend. You go deep with this one. You may want to reread it in a month or two and try to get to the root of some of the challenges you face. Perhaps, it's time to take some of the weight off your shoulders about the past? Only you can say if it is. You're a good person and I hope you don't think of that as a negative some days. Not sure your sister would have done a "better" job. How can you compare something like that? You seem to be doing a great job. You want to help kids with CF with your pal Monganko. That's giving back in a big way. Lots to be proud of, Josh. Lots. Stay lucky and have the best of holidays.


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Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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