I was feeling really happy this week. Really hopeful. I had many good conversations with library patrons, friends and family over the past few days. I reached my goal weight on Thursday. Someone asked about my mom’s house and is interested in buying it. I applied for a new job at my library and felt good about it. And I’ve been looking forward to a few holiday activities I planned with my family–our annual gathering with my extended family, an upcoming viewing of Elf the Musical with my boy, and ushering for Santaland Diaries with my dear friend, Tiffany. So many cool things coming up. Life was good.
And then Friday evening happened. Once I got home from work, I made clam dip for my family’s get-together the next day. I went to the bedroom to get comfy and my husband came in and closed the door. He said to me, “Remember what it says in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?” He then handed me a towel. “You always need a towel…and don’t panic.” Then he told me he got laid off from his job that afternoon. A permanent layoff. I stood there for a minute until he made me sit down before I fell down.
You need to understand something. We’ve been through this…many times. When we were first married, my husband found it difficult to find work and then he was laid off quite a few times in the first 12 years of our marriage. But we’ve been lucky for the past 8 years and felt somewhat job secure. But the last time my husband was laid off, he didn’t find work for 18 months. That’s a year and a half, people. I nearly divorced him by the end. He was withdrawn and depressed and I couldn’t take it anymore. The only reason we didn’t lose our house was because my mom helped us. But there is no one to help us anymore. We are it.
After I sat on the bed, my husband sat beside me and we stayed in the bedroom for a few minutes, trying to wrap our heads around the mess, hashing things out. Husband told me about another guy laid off the same day who had a little baby at home. There were a few layoffs the week before and a few more to go next week apparently. It’s crappy no matter how you look at it.
Then we came out of the bedroom to tell our son. I kept my shit together until then. But once we told him, he wanted a hug and then we all cried. I explained that there would still be a few Christmas presents because I had already purchased some and he immediately said he didn’t care about that. I told him that his allowance he received that day would have to be the last one until Papa got a job, but his chores would need to continue. And that we’d need to cancel a few subscription services immediately. He was ok with all of that, but was worried about food and our home. So was I, but tried not to show it.
The next day, I went to Mom’s to visit her for a bit, but I never mentioned the layoff. I knew Mom would probably forget it anyway, but there’s no reason to worry her even for a moment. When I returned home, the three of us went to our family gathering. (I just couldn’t take Mom to this one. It’s very difficult to get inside my dad’s house and I think the amount of people would have been too much.) Some people already knew about the layoff, and we told the others that didn’t. We tried to just enjoy ourselves and perhaps eat our feelings for the afternoon. Which we did.
Then last night, as we got ready for bed, I asked the boy if he’d like to have his new light on, a Christmas gift he just received from his cousins.
He said yes but then, “Well, how much energy does this use?” He asked about other lights in the house, too, and what could we shut off while we were home. You know, I’ve been trying to get the kid to turn off lights for a few years now, but I really didn’t want him to finally learn this way!
He was definitely concerned with how much everything costs. Everything. Apparently I wasn’t hiding my panic about the bills very well. (I was calculating all of our expenses in my head over and over until I finally just threw my hands up. If only I had a money tree!) Both my husband and I are trying to reassure our son that we’ll be ok, but we’re also not lying about what could happen if Papa doesn’t find a job soon.
There is no doubt that my husband is grieving over this job. He really thought he would be there until he retired in another 15 or 16 years. He liked his work and the people he worked with. This is a real blow to him, to his confidence. He’s really trying to be positive and already has a few places he plans on applying to, but I also know how sad he is.
Today, he spent much of the daylight hours cleaning out his work van (essentially his office), washing his uniforms to give back to the company, working on his resume, packing away his phone and laptop to give back. All of the stuff you have to do when you have to leave a job. So at this point of the day, after watching my husband and helping him when I could, I think I am at the anger stage of our grief. I am royally pissed off.
Really, Universe? Really? *shaking my fist*
This was the first year in quite some time when I could purchase little gifts for my family members and send holiday cards out without feeling like we’re hemorrhaging money. We even adopted a local family through Christmas Is For Kids. I’m so grateful I had already purchased their gifts because I knew I couldn’t say, “Sorry unnamed family! There is no magic of Christmas. Just disappointments and despair!” And although I haven’t purchased stamps for my cards yet, I’m still going to. I won’t send as many as I used to and I still can’t write a holiday letter yet because the world isn’t as bright without my brother, but I will send a few cards. It gives me little heps of happiness. (Thanks for the term “hep”, Paula Poundstone!) As do the lights on my tree and my beautiful Christmas unicorn, Fred. (Tacky? I don’t give a shit.)
So this holiday season, I will first attend a pity party I’m having. It will feature me, lots of cookies and a glass or two of wine. Then I’m going to pull up these damn big girl panties, give the finger to the universe, and attempt to spread a pile of kindness and good karma out into the world once again.
But first, another cookie, a good rest and hopefully some kick-ass dreams.
Happy holidays, my friends. ❤