'Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more': Holiday season helps writer find perspective the hard way

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2008

I get more than a little nuts when I look at our retirement fund going south on vacation without me. It would not be so bad if I had any inkling at all it was going to head back my way -- at least by the time that I want to retire.

I went so nuts I began to adapt Christmas carols -- mind you I love Christmas and carols, so my husband became concerned when I began to out-"Grinch" him.

"Hit the Deck"

Hit the deck and kill the holly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

'Tis the season of frugal, not folly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Shed we now our overspending

Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la.

Troll discount stores, bring back mending

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

See the blazing recession before us.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Tighten your belts and join the chorus.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Follow me in grinchy measure.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

While I tell of bailout treasures.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Fast away the old year passes

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

With no help for the masses

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

Sing we poor mouth all together.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

As the economy has everyone tethered.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

I was banned from checking on the retirement and told to get some perspective and soon.

Perspective is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you and then -- BAM -- hits you in the face with how absurd your (in this case my) behavior is. I am black and blue from perspective reminding me how lucky I am.

I ran into the mom of my best friend in high school. As we caught up on what is going on with each other, she confided that she and her prayer group have given over to God the worry and stress of the recession. This wonderful woman who let me seek refuge in her house on so many occasions while I was growing up and is living on her ever declining retirement looked at me and smiled and said there are better things to do than to stress about what we have no control over.

"You're young, it will rebound," she said.

My son's best friend, who was born with a heart defect complicated by the fact that he grew to be 6 feet, 11 inches tall, literally exploded out his heart valves two weeks ago. He was medevaced to Seattle were he nearly bled out and died before doctors were able to save his life. He and his mother are faced with millions of dollars in care, surgery and follow-ups and will arrive to their unfurnished, rented home in Soldotna with nothing but the clothes on their backs in one week.

They are simply ecstatic for life, any life, if he has to live on mac and cheese for the rest of it and sleep on the floor he would not care.

It's hard to be "Grinchy," but I am sure that just as the Grinch was able to find redemption by the end of the book I too have found the meaning of dealing with the economy -- get over myself.

By reaching out and helping each other we are not alone and don't have to carry a heavy load. Look to and out for your neighbors. You know someone who struggles, take a piece of your pie, no matter how tiny, and share.

A great example I have heard about is a group of women who have banned together. Each one puts in $100 and they gather as a group to give the money to a community member.

You don't have to join a club to help. We have at our house the Secret Santa Society and do everything anonymously. It then becomes not about the giver, but about the receiver.

I hope everyone picks someone and lends a hand. The trick will be not for a Christmas season but the recession length. Then maybe just maybe we can become like the Whos down in Who-ville and remember:

"Christmas Day is in our grasp

so long as we have hands to clasp.

Christmas Day will always be,

just as long as we have we.


Christmas, while we stand

Heart to heart, ... and hand in hand."

Nan Misner is the editorial assistant at the Peninsula Clarion. She can be reached at nancianna.misner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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