I don’t often jump into deeply personal subject matter here on Family Friendly Frugality. However, with the holidays approaching, I think it’s important that I share a bit of my background with all of you. The idea of writing a post about this has weighed heavy on my heart for awhile now. I knew two things for sure:
- I didn’t want it to be an “oh pity me” type post
- It almost feels unnecessary to write this, because I know, and have experienced firsthand, the generosity and wonderfulness (it’s a word, I promise) that is the FFF community. Therefore, if I was going to write it, it had to be personal and not preachy at all.
Now that you are scratching your head and likely wondering what in the world I am about to reveal to you, first let me say…I’m not special. My situation wasn’t unique. THAT is why I feel compelled to write this post. Not because I went through something that other’s didn’t, but mainly because I went through something that so many others did (and still are currently).
Let’s Get Started
My mom and dad were married for 16 years. During this time frame, my mom never once worked. She was a stay at home mom and she was great at it. I have such great memories growing up with my mom at home with me, and I honestly don’t recall a time where my parents were unhappy.
However, one day my parents told us they were divorcing and my entire world was turned upside down. Now, as a disclaimer here, I was young and neither my mother or father are around any longer to verify fact from the fiction of a little girl’s memories. I do remember that suddenly, my stay at home mother with no real job experience whatsoever, was forced into the workplace.
First she found a job at Kmart. She didn’t know how to drive, and we didn’t own a vehicle, so she rode the bus several cities over to go to work each day. All of a sudden me and my siblings were latchkey kids. It wasn’t a situation that worked out well for our family, so thankfully my mother was eventually offered a job at the Head Start program that my baby sister attended. This was a blessing for our little family since it was walking distance and it saved my mother money on childcare.
Regardless, from the time of my parents divorce until the time my mother passed away when I was 12 years old, life was not easy (that’s not to say it got easier after my mother passed away, it just got a different kind of hard). Money was scarce and even though my mother showered us with love and attention, we were kids and we were well aware on the extras we were missing out on by being poor. You name it, we were on it. WIC, food stamps, HUD and goodness knows what else. We couldn’t survive without those government programs. They were our lifeblood. Over time my mother worked her way up and slowly we started to teeter onto our feet again, but those were some tough years. My father and stepmother were having hard financial times as well, so it wasn’t as if my dad wasn’t helping out. It was just a really tough time for our family.
Little Blessings=Canned Cranberry Sauce and Barbie Clothes
You might think that I look back on this time in my life with sadness. However, it’s quite the opposite. Up until I met my husband and started my own family, this period of time in my life was one I reflected on most fondly. You see, we lived in a small New Jersey town at this time. I was not a popular child in my school, in fact I was made fun of relentlessly. The community as a whole was a supportive one though. Neighbors helped neighbors. Churches reached out into the community to see where they could actively make a difference. People, not things, mattered in this small north Jersey town.
Because of the generous and loving nature of this community, I never went without a feast for Thanksgiving dinner. I never wanted for school supplies or clothing at the start of each school year. It never failed that space below our Christmas tree was non existent and that a fresh Turkey or Ham was delivered to our door for just about every holiday.
It wasn’t just one person, or one church or one neighbor; it was a community. A community that believed that all families had the right to a little extra a few times a year (and actually throughout the year in our case). A community that understood that by lifting up those who were barely scraping by, they were not only increasing their own blessings, but they were also creating memories that would last a lifetime. A community that celebrated prosperity and good times by paying it forward, not by hoarding it for themselves.
I want to thank that little North Jersey town (Wanaque, NJ…I’m talking to you!) for giving me great memories and for enveloping my family in your kindness.
A Challenge to FFF Readers
I also want to send out a call to action to the Family Friendly Frugality community. Today is Halloween. Tomorrow starts the gear up towards Thanksgiving. Of course after that is Christmas.
For the next 60 days, I want the Family Friendly Frugality community to pay forward their blessings. To pay forward your time, your talent, your treasure.
Now trust me, I understand what it’s like to have barely enough to get by on your own. However, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that strategic shopping can practically create another income for your family. Even if you are still barely scraping by AFTER using coupons and stockpiling, you can still make a difference. You can donate your time. Your talent. It doesn’t have to be your treasure if you have none to spare.
Just remember, those baskets that showed up on my doorstep as a little girl weren’t put together by an individual. One person gave a can of cranberry sauce. One person gave Barbie clothes. One person donated a turkey, etc.
It is through COMMUNITY that we can change the world.
It’s through COMMUNITY that we can shine light on someone else’s darkness. Every little bit helps!
This holiday season, I encourage…no. I CHALLENGE you to find ways to help others. I CHALLENGE you to make a difference. Most of all, I want to serve as an adult reminder that the littlest things can make a difference in a child’s life.
What should have probably been the worst time of my life was made wonderful mainly through the kindness of neighbors and strangers.
Throughout the month of November and December, I will be giving away a $50 gift card to Walmart each week. My hope is that it can bless a few families, not just the ones that win. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post telling me a bit about YOUR story. Or comment on my story, it really matters not. Just make sure your comment means something (and that you leave a valid email address on the comment form so I can contact you if you win!). Each week, I’ll choose a reader and I’ll send out a $50 Walmart gift card their way.
I want to hear from you! Has the kindness of strangers or neighbors profoundly impacted your life? Do you do anything special for others during this time of the year? Tell me your story.
Disclaimer: This giveaway is not sponsored by Walmart or anyone else. It’s MY way of giving a bit of MY treasure to others. I hope it blesses many. This giveaway ends on 12/19. A new gift card will be given away each Monday starting on 11/7.