Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Living Paycheck-To-Paycheck In a Little House at Christmastime

It's Christmastime.  Lots of beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful places.  There are Christmas parties, well-lit trees, fires in fireplaces, and drinks for all.

Unless there isn't...

Without any direct proof, I suspect a large majority of us live paycheck-to-paycheck.  I also suspect that most of us feel poorer at Christmas than at any other time.  When you live paycheck-to-paycheck, a Wish list is your nightmare and a credit card's dream, and if you're not lucky enough to have good credit, it's simply a list of Things-I-Don't-Have-Enough-Money-to-Buy (which really isn't helpful any time of the year).  It's all-too-easy to look around and wish you lived in one of those big, beautiful houses with endless presents under the tree (that are already paid off).  And, if you succumb to your looking around, you allow yourself a long ride on the one-way swing from the "Have" to the "Have-Not" tree.

But, wait.  If you happen to be poor this Christmas, just barely making it, or one of those who thinks everyone else's Christmas is bigger, more beautiful, more Christmas-y, or more perfect than yours, venture with me to my childhood mind, for just a minute... 

I have never lived in a big house by American standards, but have only lived in mansions if you're from any other country on the planet.  As a little girl, I remember dreaming about dormer windows and a house with an upstairs.  I loved the thought of a big house, and the idea of all of those rooms, although I couldn't figure out (and still can't) what they might all be used for.  I have never lived in a house that had a room that wasn't used every day, but, I remember driving by big, beautiful houses, and wondering "What is going on in there?" and thinking, "It must be wonderful, whatever it is."     

However, I've grown up, and have spent some time considering what it is that drew me to those big, beautiful houses.  And, I've discovered it!  I always assumed there was more love in a big house.  I imagined something delicious baking in the oven, and someone who took the time to make it.  I imagined a group of people around a table, smiling and laughing (Ironically, all in one room).  I imagined the thoughts, the words, the interactions, the food, and everything in between,  to be beautiful and full of love.  

Pope John Paul II quoted Dostoevsky when he wrote, "Beauty will save the world."  I think I have learned why beauty is so powerful.  It is because someone cares enough to make an effort.  Beauty is the product of Love.  Whether it is the flowers that someone cares enough to water, the cookies someone cares enough to bake, or the decorations that someone cares enough to hang; the love and the someone behind it is where the real attraction is. 

I can still appreciate looking at a big, beautiful house, but I would no longer trade it for my own.  I now know that the someone(s) inside are the real source of my interest.  Scraping by or filthy rich, little house or big house, I have someone.  Many, in fact.  And if I continue with my suspicions, I suspect you do, too.  Celebrate with me, if you have even one person who loves you.  And read this poem any time the world tricks you into thinking you are poor.  Especially if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck in a little house at Christmastime...

If all the world were mine to plunder
I'd be content with just one town,
And in that town, one house alone,
And in that house, one single room,
And in that room, one cot only,
For there, asleep, is the one I love.
-Ancient Sanskrit Poem 

Dear God the Father, Thank you for sending Baby Jesus in His humanity.  Thank you, Mary, for saying "Yes".  Thank you, Joseph, for stepping in and stepping up.  Thank you, Jesus, for being born in a stable.  Not in a mansion.  Not in your own little house.  Not even a room in the inn.  Thank you for showing us that "love grows best in little houses".  Strengthen us as we guard our eyes, that we may not look away from the blessings in our life for any reason, least of all to look longingly at ways you've blessed another.  Please give us the grace to be that someone who strives to make the effort to love, and add beauty to the lives of those around us.  Thank you for those who do this continually, and for their example.  Please be with those who don't have even one by whom they know they are loved.  Let them be known and sought after.  Thank you for the wealth you've given us in those we love.  You know we would not trade them for any amount of money.  God bless us all - the poor who are poor, the poor who are rich, the rich who are rich, and the rich who are poor.  Amen.


  1. Love this Heidi! I need to hear this as I often succumb to the 'I wish I had...' thoughts. Bless you!

    1. Thanks, Cecilia! Social media makes it so easy to paint the life that you want others to think you're living. It's easy to take the bait. A Blessed Advent to you, beautiful lady! And why are you up so late?! ;)

  2. Awesome reminder, Heidi! Thank you!

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