Holiday struggle is real

Published 9:12 pm Thursday, December 5, 2019

Once upon a time, about 46 years ago, I was my daughter’s age, and there was little for me to stress about.

Sure, there were the toddler temper tantrums — mine involved a lot of stomping and headbanging (voice of my mother in my head: “It could explain some things, son”).

But I had no true worries.

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While we didn’t always have a lot, my parents never made it seem that way. If there was something we truly wanted, they found a way to provide for me and my two sisters.

With my wife, 3-year-old daughter and I, it’s like déjà vu.

Despite both my wife and I working full-time jobs, we struggle with the daily necessities — paying our rent, her preschool costs and making sure we have enough to feed all of us. Two major repairs on two separate cars haven’t helped. But my wife and I work hard to make sure our daughter doesn’t see the struggle.

She doesn’t need to see it or experience it. She already wears her heart on her proverbial sleeve. If she sees one of us upset, she is upset too, and she comes to try and cheer us up. If we are happy, she spreads that much more joy.

Assuming I get home when my daughter is awake, she always bounds to me, sometimes from our patio, and I get a big hug, and many times, I get her play-by-play of what are usually great days at her preschool, and what she has been doing with Mommy since they got home.

I couldn’t read the minds of the thousands who turned out recently at Lake Meade Park and at LW’s Lawn Service and MWM Investments and Property Management to receive free food for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I imagine, though, that they feel similarly about their families and do whatever it takes to provide for them.

It’s ironic that my wife and I make more money in a year than my parents ever did, yet we have the same financial struggles now as they did those many years ago.

It can be difficult to find joy during trying moments, especially when those trials involve money, or a lack thereof.

We manage, though. My daughter, like my sisters and I way back when, is creative and doesn’t need a lot to have fun. Running is a game for her, and she’ll do it almost anywhere (We’re trying to curb that in parking lots and around cars.), and she loves kicking ball, hopping and imaginary play.

I’m guilty of taking photos and videos of her to the point where she’s almost immune to it, or she’ll just say, “Dada, no pictures!” I try to take just enough to preserve the memory, because I like taking random moments during my day, when I’m missing home, to play back some of those images and videos. I’ve even recorded audio of her with conversations she has with herself, acting out scenes with her toy animals, figurines or whatever else she can find.

But the memories I have in my heart are the best, and it helps me persevere in the day-to-day struggles.

That’s what gives me the push to make sure that whatever stress I may be feeling doesn’t transfer to her in some way.

And I hope for those in the food lines, or anyone else who may be struggling financially, emotionally or in any other way, that we all find even some small sliver of peace and joy in our lives.

The struggle is definitely real, but my hope for this holiday season is that I can be a beacon of peace and joy to her, to my wife and anyone else whose path I cross.