I feel I've been pretty hunky-dory throughout watching everyone else get to go shopping. I've been a good sport throughout the Black Friday mess and the only money I have spent on myself in a two month period (aside from buying gas) has been 4 dollars on two skeins of cheap cotton yarn. For being hounded and shouted at by commercials and ads to SPEND SPEND SPEND, I have been keeping my cool.
This project is about having a great Christmas despite the setback of not being able to SPEND SPEND SPEND. Granted, one needs to spend a dime here and there, but for the most part, this is a mostly penniless venture. I don't have any money, but I can still have something remarkable and meaningful.
But it gets to you. Being broke, having nothing to give to your loved ones--even the things they really need, like socks and underwear--makes me sick to my stomach. When you're broke, money comes to you from odd angles. When you can spare a dime at all, it goes to the priorities, like bills and groceries and gasoline. There is nothing I have left over at all to get Syd even one present: the most important present of all, the one she needs most.
Comparatively, it is a cheap present, something most everyone will be getting this year and something people probably won't think much about. I can't divulge what it is; but it is the only thing I feel worth saving for, because Syd has been putting her nose to the grindstone for our family so that we can have dinner and a roof over our heads and kitty food.
I had a moment just earlier where I was in a position to save a good chunk of change for it. Then something else happened, and now it is gone. Back to square zero, right where I started. I can't tell you how upset I am over this. I can't tell you how jealous I get when friends talk about all the shopping they've done, the deals they cashed in on. I can't stand it when my neighbor constantly shows me all the presents she's already gotten for her family. Not when my own window of opportunity, so slim, is even further out of reach. It's the dark side of being unemployed at Christmas.
But even so...
Christmas is not just about the presents, despite what daytime television tells us. Having family, having a roof over one's head, having kitty food...these are our priorities. Even if I can't get the Most Important Present, at the very least, I will serve up a Christmas that is so under-commercialized it'll be difficult to tell it's a modern holiday.
December 1st is only four days away. In four days I will drag out the Christmas tree ornaments. I will start picking out, carefully, the types of Christmas music we can stand to listen to (sadly, Christmas music is our least favorite part of the season--if I were President I would sign into law the inability to put Christmas music on the radio until December 20th), and loading up some of the crafty things I have saved back for this project. Four days to prepare for the extravaganza of do-it-yourself holiday explosion.
I think I can do it. The Dark Side doesn't win for very long. It always gives in to the good side of The Force.
To anyone else stuck in my shoes, I promise to deliver to you a Christmas that can't be beat.