The Thanksgiving weekend isn’t over for a few more hours but the Holiday Season is fully upon us. I’ve had a great week off and am looking forward to getting back to school tomorrow and finishing the last three weeks of my undergraduate degree.
Normally around this time I would have taken the time to sit back and reflect on the blessings that have been mine this year. Yet, I’ve had so many opportunities to do so that it would seem forced to set aside a special day. So let’s recap the last year:
December 4, 2008 I lost my job for the second time that year. I had been working full-time and going to school part-time since Summer 2006 and had projected a Summer 2010 graduation as long as I could maintain 9 credits each semester, three semesters a year. However, Tammy and I decided that, with the state of the economy in January 2009, it would be wise for me to focus all of my energy on school and graduate sooner so that my school schedule would not be an obstacle in my finding employment (as it had been thus far). Thus began my 2009 education blitz, completing 43.5 credits in three semesters: 12 in Spring, 15 in Summer, and 16.5 this Fall.
I’ve had more time to spend with my family, especially my son. Born in May 2007, D has always been his mother son. In fact, he really didn’t like me at all for the first nine or so months of his life. I could hold him if Tammy was in the room, but as soon as he discovered that she was gone, it was kicking, punching, screaming, and crying until she came back and held him. Even as he started to warm to me, the situation didn’t really seem to improve much. I was usually gone from early in the morning until late at night, night classes being the only classes that I could take because of work. On nights that I didn’t have class I was home, but usually huddled over my homework. My absence strained my relationship with my son because I didn’t understand his attempts to communicate with me (as babies do) and my attempts usually left both of us frustrated. My lack of employment has been a huge blessing in that it has allowed me to spend more time with D and our relationships have changed dramatically in the last year.
My family has been blessed with good health this year. As we’re uninsured (except for the boy, thanks be given to CHIP) and have not had the finances to survive a major medical event, this has been a major blessing!
On top of student loans, which thankfully will not be excessive when I graduate, I’ve been able to participate in a state tuition assistance program that assists displaced workers to receive additional education in order to improve their employment opportunities. And since University students are not generally admitted to the program it is an even bigger blessing. This has allowed us to use more of our student loans for living expenses. I was able to find temporary employment with the U.S. Census Bureau during the spring. The majority of the work fell during the break between Spring and Summer semesters and took some strain off of our student loan funds.
Our car is in good order. Our bills are manageable. We have all been healthy. We almost lost our apartment when the owner filed bankruptcy, but miraculously they didn’t lose any of their real estate in the bankruptcy. Also, our extended family cannot be overlooked. They have stepped in countless times and surprised us with diapers or clothes for D, food, and even money when things got really tight. We could not be where we are without them.
One final blessing that cannot go unmentioned – my wife. She has been my rock since the day we were married. She has primarily managed our finances so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it (and because I SUCK when it comes to money). Tammy has found ways to cut our grocery bills down to almost nothing, with out sacrificing food, in ways that I never thought possible. She deserves all credit for the intellectual growth and development of our son and I give it fully. I keep saying that I don’t deserve her and that some day she’ll realize that. Yet, in her usual way, she reassures me of the opposite. I hope to be able to prove her right.
Tis the season, they say, to be grateful for the blessings that we have. I’ve been thankful every day for the last year and will continue to be so.