“My hands are full, my car is full, my house is full, but my wallet is empty.” This is my normal response when someone looks at the size of my family and says something witty like, “Wow–you sure do have your hands full.”
My comment back to them is especially true at Christmas-time. How much money does it take to buy presents for that many children? I once threatened not to buy them anything for Christmas and had to take it back quickly to prevent Wal-mart from folding. I don’t have any real affection for that particular company, but I couldn’t let all those old people who say “Welcome to the Wal-mart” lose their jobs.
Having enough money for Christmas presents is difficult if you have kids, but it’s also difficult if you lose half the money you have allotted for presents a week before the big day. I know this from personal experience.
No, I didn’t lose the money gambling. That’s not something that I do. Back when Deal or No Deal was on almost every night of the week, I would often imagine being a contestant. I wouldn’t have been on there long because I would have taken the very first offer. Leaving there with $50 beats leaving there with nothing. Kenny Rogers once met a Gambler on a train bound for nowhere. It wasn’t me.
It was my first Christmas as Kristy’s husband and we didn’t have much money to shop with at all so it was a very good thing that we didn’t have any children yet. But we still had several presents to buy for various people, including each other. So we managed to scrape together $200 and headed to the mall a week before Christmas.
We walked around together for a while, but then I noticed that nothing was being purchased. Or even considered for purchase. Or even touched. This was not going to work. Spending four hours shuffling around a mall is not my idea of fun or even semi-fun and that is what I pictured was going to happen if I didn’t act quickly. I told Kristy that I was going to go to walk around a little to see if I could find my dad and ugly brother a gift.
That was fine, but she wanted me to give her one of the $100-bills just in case she found something to buy while I wasn’t with her. No problem, but when I gave it to her I said something that caused a problem. I told her not to lose it.
Have you ever stood in the middle of Sears and had a heated argument with the one person you love more than any other human being in the world? I have. It wasn’t pleasant. She told me to quit treating her like a child because I wasn’t her father. I told her I realized that I wasn’t her father because I was her husband and we weren’t living in Alabama where that kind of thing is legal. Did I mention that Kristy is from Alabama? Yeah–that comment didn’t go over very well.
After the dust settled and we said our apologies, I gave her one of the $100-bills and headed down the mall by myself to find what I could find. I wasn’t by myself long. I only had time to go into one store. As I was walking out, I saw Kristy heading toward me with tears in her eyes. As I held my arms out to hug her I heard her say, “I lost the money.”
If there was ever an “I told you so” moment, this was it. I could have scolded her for losing half of the money that we were going to shop with. I could have lectured her about being more responsible. I could have rehashed our whole argument and wondered out loud how in the world we were going to be able to buy all of the presents we needed to buy now that she had lost $100.
But I didn’t do any of these things. I didn’t care about the money. I cared about her.
She was hurting, so I hugged her. Tightly.
She was crying, so I told her I loved her. Over and over.
We stood in the middle of the mall holding each other while hundreds of people walked past us trying to find that special gift for that special someone on their list. I had no idea what anyone thought about us and I didn’t really care. My special someone was in my arms.
She looked up at me and said that she was sorry. I looked down at her and said that it was fine, that we would be fine. And that I loved her. And that I always would.
I don’t know what happened to the $100-bill; I hope someone found it who needed it worse than we did. What I do know is that this my 12th Christmas with Kristy and the years have flown by. I still love her and she still loves me.
That knowledge alone is worth more than money can buy.
(Do you have a story like this or someone you want to express your love for? Go ahead and share–it won’t hurt!)