My Christmas story is a couple of days late because my keyboard ran out of juice. It has a weird battery. It will go for months without needing a recharge, but then right when I absolutely, positively need to use it, right now is when it doesn’t work, and with Christmas being Christmas we had other family goings-on, and cooking and present things to do instead, and I let this wait until now.
A few days ago I was scrolling through Twitter. My Twitter is mostly fandom and politics, and so far, I’ve been pretty lucky about staying off the troll radar for my politics (and believe it or not, my fandom also), so it’s not a terribly awful place to be for me, and I get my punditry and news headlines to look into more closely on other sites and I get to make comments somewhere other than talking to myself, although Twitter often feels like that too.
One of the alt-gov sites that I follow posted about the upcoming (at the time) government shutdown, and how for most of the people affected they live paycheck to paycheck and this is really terrible for them. Anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck, and tax refund to tax refund knows the stress of that kind of life, weighing even the most mundane monetary decisions. It’s really many more people than you might think. For anyone who knows me or reads me, while we are not government employees, we can empathize because we do live paycheck to paycheck and sometimes those paychecks don’t quite keep up with the bills and expenses of real living with kids.
A second person commented with his opinion that for some of these government employees if they just budgeted better, getting through the shutdown until they get paid back wouldn’t be a hardship, and they shouldn’t have any trouble waiting until their paycheck eventually comes. (My note – not everyone gets that retroactive pay. For those people that paycheck is gone, including any holiday pay. Some of those people may get comp time, but comp time won’t pay the electric bill.)
I was having a rough day that day, and I went off. Like I really went off.
This was my exact tweet:
“Budgeting problem? Fuck off. Do you have any idea how much my medicine costs?! And I have insurance! My daughter wanted a pack of cookies to bring to school to share in class. I emptied a piggy bank. I’m trying to figure out Xmas dinner shopping. And we’re fortunate.”
I’m not proud of the tone of this. I try to take the high road, and my intention is mostly to correct the spread of lies and make useful commentary. This was pure anger and contempt.
And then I moved on.
A few minutes later, I saw that one person liked my tweet and then followed me. This happens sometimes, so it wasn’t that unusual.
I then received a DM (direct message) from this woman. Her dad had fallen into the Medicare doughnut hole and they were having an extremely small Christmas but they were all together and grateful. Also in this message, she mentioned where she lived and if I lived close enough to meet her, she offered us one of the two roast beefs she had bought on a great sale that we could have for our Christmas dinner.
I couldn’t respond right away.
I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion.
We had a plan for our dinner, but things were tight, and we were still in the process of making choices based on how much money we had to spend on dinner. One example is instead of buying a fancy dessert, which would be our Christmas tradition, I made cheesecake – still rich, still delicious, but very, very inexpensive. We had started including Yorkshire pudding in our dinner last year, and while relatively inexpensive, it takes 1 1/2 cups of milk, and with the milk drinkers in my house, I couldn’t spare the milk for something so “extravagant.”
We still had our plan to get our main part of dinner – also roast beef, also on a great sale,
None of that changed this woman’s generosity, her outreach, her random act of kindness to make sure that we had something to put on our table for Christmas night. It was everything Christmas is and should be, and it touched me deeply.
I did finally respond and I thanked her. I explained in a similar, but shorter, tweet-sized message of most of what I’ve posted above, but this woman and her family joined my list of people to pray for this season and is a good reminder for not only me, but for everyone reading this of what we should hold dear this season and all through out the year.
This is the reminder we are looking for.
I am promising myself that I won’t forget it.
Thank you, KL for your kindness and generosity, and Merry Christmas.