I’m sharing a poem/holiday gift I came up with for a couple who are very dear to me.
During the past two years, my friends worked hard to dig themselves out of long-standing debt. Diligently, one decision at a time, they paid off credit cards and loans, and now own their cars outright — and paid off their mortgage. I’m incredibly proud of their courage and actions.
One of them is facing layoff after five years of increasingly complex job duties, and several “near-miss” shutdowns. No new angel seems ready to land to postpone closure of the company, and my dear friend is stressed to the max with the situation. Her husband knows they can get through this, and I do, too.
We talked about what they’ve done to fix their finances, and how their lives are now vs. three years ago. Health insurance continuation through COBRA* is possible — and must be done. Unemployment insurance should be a given, under the circumstances, while she’s looking for another position.
“But COBRA will take up almost all my unemployment!”
“Maybe, but you don’t have the outstanding bills to deal with now. You can make choices — good choices — don’t forget that.” I told her.
This got me thinking about our usual gift exchange — we both spend time and money looking for something unusual for the other; in fact, we have more fun with this particular giving than with anyone else.
So I decided I’d give them a POMEGRANATE this year. I explained what it was, and why I was doing it, and asked them to please follow these instructions, as a favor to all of us:
(POM for short: Peace Of Mind.)
Take the money you were going to spend on your gifts to us, write a check to yourselves (don’t cash it), subtract it from the check register, and put it into a band aid box.
Label the box “COBRA VENOM” , and find some good symbols to put on the box.
Each week, add another check written to yourselves, and feed it to the COBRA box. Consider it as “spent money you no longer have”. Even $25 per week adds up.
If you get a cash-out of comp time or vacation, put at least half of it into the COBRA box, off the top.
Hubby and I will send you a check to feed to the COBRA. You can cash that one and either put the money in directly, or do it via another physical check.
This is the most precious gift you can give yourselves — and one we never had growing up. The stress of being on the edge of financial chaos played a huge part of our lives, and absolutely created the situation that led my father to run away from home and rejoin the Army when I was ten.
Our lives would have been quite different if our parents had a clue and could see the way out of it. Not complaining about how we ended up, since both of us found the loves of our lives, but it’s still a spectre that haunts.
You’ve made such progress in the past two years. Embrace that and look at this as a time to stand back and creatively appreciate that you can handle this. You have choices about the food you buy, what else you need now, and what could go on a wish list for next year.
You aren’t obligated to buy anything. You are responsible for taking care of yourselves emotionally, physically, and financially.
I’m very proud of what you’ve done — you are an inspiration to me to clean up parts of my life that drag me down. This includes projects that grab my attention, but not my full passion. Clutter I’m holding on to because I haven’t stepped back quietly enough to hear what’s in my heart.
Engaging in Retail Therapy or Hand-to-Mouth Eating Therapy hasn’t ever solved it for me, though heaven knows I’ve given it every opportunity!
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love / It’s the only thing we have just too little of . . .”
Please give yourselves this gift of love this year, and keep it in mind for future gift-giving.
I wish you peace, health, creativity, and much love.
PS: And to you, dear readers:
We’d be delighted to have you buy our books. However, this may be the time to swim upstream until you are more stable financially. Then go buy one for yourself, and one for a friend. Enjoy it without guilt. Pass the idea along.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances. For more info, see, among other sites, this one: