An Uncertain Year

This year can be summed up by a question my son asked me tonight as we sat on the couch together and watched the lights on our tree.

“Dad, how come the lights at the top of the tree don’t work?”

Normally, I’d crack a joke. But not today. I didn’t have an answer for why a third of the lights didn’t work. I suppose I could look for the dead bulb or the short in the cord. Maybe one entire strand of lights hadn’t been plugged in. Not sure. Whatever the reason it didn’t seem to bother Lincoln so why should it bother me?

An imperfect tree to an uncertain year.

We didn’t send out Christmas cards this year. We handed out a few gifts to neighbors. We didn’t hang lights around our home. We didn’t give as much service as we had planned. Home and auto repairs seemed to drop out of nowhere. Our three oldest kids needed glasses and dental work done.

Nothing major. Just many small expenditures that add up over time during a year when my bonus was slashed.

These were my thoughts as I wrapped the last few presents with Kim tonight. In a few hours our kids will awake to find that Santa delivered fewer gifts this year than in years past. They won’t understand why that’s the case.

Yet if they do ask, I’ll explain to them that 2009 has been a difficult year for many people. Like our friends down the street who have been unable to sell their home for well over a year. Or another friend who lost his job three months ago and has yet to find work. Or the evening I returned home from work depressed because I had to tell several loyal employees I no longer had jobs for them due to a downturn in business. 

This has been a year of drastic upheaval for many.

Too many good people looking for jobs. Too many people taking whatever work they can even if that means delivering pizza to keep the lights on.

In spite of the tough year, we’ve been incredibly blessed. Our kids were able to spend more time with their grandparents this summer than any before. We enjoyed our weeks at Longbeach and our summer trip to Ogden. We spent a lot of time around the table putting puzzles together, playing games and sharing goofy stories.

As we lounged around the house tonight, a friend dropped off a box of Cap’N Crunch Christmas Crunch. The kids followed me to the kitchen assuming I’d pull out plates and napkins to minimize the mess. They were surprised when I opened the box and tossed Christmas Crunch across the table in their direction.

Mom wasn’t home to put a stop to it.

And then it started. I blame Kai. He started the mayhem by reaching over to pilfer my red crunch berries. I had no choice but to steal Lincoln’s green crunch trees. Of course, Lincoln had to take back what he’d lost from his sisters.

Before long we had more cereal on the floor than in our mouths. But it didn’t matter because everyone was having a wonderful time. Kai giggled as he tossed berries across the table. We all laughed. Everyone got along. A Christmas miracle.

Maybe we should have read the Christmas story from the Bible tonight. Or acted out the nativity scene. Or sang songs together. But we didn’t. Instead we sat around a table and munched on Crunch.

It was an imperfect activity to end a great day.

4 thoughts on “An Uncertain Year

  1. I hear what you are saying. Our belts were pretty tight this year as well. Thaknfully, Lukas is too young to understand or notice. Love the Crunch idea. Maybe it will turn into a holiday tradition there? Merry Christmas to you all.

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  2. Great post Brett.Something we decided on years ago was that Christmases would be simple no matter what our financial circumstances were. Our kids know that Santa only brings one gift a piece (we say that he has billions of kids to visit so he just can't give them more.) Then we trade names within our family so everyone buys someone else a gift. We usually put a price limit on them as well. Then anything extra comes form Aaron and I. Our kids understand full well that we don't have money to spend on extras the rest of the year so they are rarely disappointed by Christmas. We talked about it years ago and didn't want to run into having a extravagant Christmas one year and then not be able to live up to that expectation the next. Plus we have always wanted to make Christmas first about Christ and then about giving to each other and those around us, not about me, me, me. I failed this year in doing more for others, I think that is a really important lesson kids should learn. Hopefully I'll do better next year. 😀

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  3. We have all been blessed through difficult years. It seems like it is those years that manage to bring us all closer as families. I remember lean years growing up and what seemed like even more years now and then with our own children. I like the scene your blog congers up at the kitchen table. One of my favorite memories is playing cards around our round, oak table when I was growing up. We were yelling and trading cards as fast and loud as we could … “Two Two Two … Four Four Four …” The Lord has blessed us as a family in 2009 and I suspect in 2010 He will do it again. That sounds like a slogan, doesn't it? I'm grateful for your family and for the feelings you express in your blog, Brett. It was nice talking to you today … hope you got the new disposal installed.

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