Over the past few years what was an orgy of Christmas shopping and gift giving has whittled down to what we have this year, which quite simply put is nothing. We are literally not Christmassing this year. Even my little table top tree remains in its plastic bag.
Now before I get a flurry of “you grinch” comments and “don’t worry you still have 5 shopping days until Christmas!” ones helpfully and cheerfully urging me on to do something I really can’t, it’s not because I don’t want a pretty little tree buried beneath colourfully wrapped paper. Shouldn’t is more the reality.
The thing is that we no longer have children in the house and this year maybe only one now-adult visiting. There are bills to pay and a car inspection to be done before December 31st. The car inspection scares me, it’s never just the $25 for the inspection, there’s always something else. And it’s that inspection last year caused me to park my Jeep and pray for money.
This year the Jeep no longer has valid plates and has been for sale since August. It’s actually in fairly good shape except that the brakes are rusted, and the battery is dead. And from the last viewer (a mechanic), it needs either a new battery cable or starter or both. It has really good mileage and two tiny spots of rust that hasn’t gone all the way through. It has a couple of stains on the back seat from children. So basically, about $1800 worth of work, much less if you are mechanically inclined and can get parts cheap. So I priced the car for the going rate (between $4k and $5k and confirmed by another of the knowledgeable viewers) less the cost of repair. The price has gone down from $3500 to $3000 with room for negotiation, within reason. (And I did say that). I also said $2500 plus two cords of dry firewood delivered would do.
So there’s been a lot of interest, but nobody wants to pay me what it’s worth. I’ve been offered $1500. I’ve been offered $2000 and then insulted by someone who didn’t bother to view the car (but neither did the $1500 person). I’ve been offered a trade for a motor home. That one kind of intregued me but if I can’t afford repairs for the Jeep I can’t afford repairs for a motor home. It’s depressing. I’m selling because it shouldn’t just be sitting, and I need the money. The winters here, a Jeep is a good thing that sadly I just can’t keep on the road anymore.
That’s the irony. I need the Jeep where I live, but can’t keep up with the upkeep. I’ve been living a lot of irony this year. I come back to work and paid back money that I got when I left before and it caused my income to go up so much that one year (even though the money was taken back) that CRA is after me for the taxes on that money I paid back (that incidently was taxed at the beginning and paid back in gross amount).
Then there’s Jim still waiting for his old age pension more than a year after he turned 65. So far he’s found out it’s not worth that much anyway and that hurts. He has land in Quebec he has to sell and can’t because he doesn’t have the money to pay for the title change (and they’re getting angry) though we could probably arrange something if somebody wanted to buy it but like the Jeep, no one wants it. So he waits for his back pay from the OAS to pay for the title.
There’s been revelations this year, like the realization that being over 50 means you don’t necessary get the job you think you’re perfect for and there’s nothing you can do about it. That all the experience and knowledge I have means nothing in the grand scheme of things. At this point I regret going back to work because I see that I won’t get the job I need that would help me get out of the financial mess I got in by going back. I’m an idiot. I know. Twice I found the situation so serious I left but I came back. This is the last time for that; the next time I leave that’s it.
I am out on the East Coast though, so that dream is fulfilled and so far we’re both happy to be here. Life really is nice here.
Today as I sit by my fire lit by broken up wooden pallets cut to stove size by Jim, I remember how frantic and expensive Christmas was when the kids where small, and before they were born when I was a nice aunt that bought those toys that gradually reduced to nothing as my own children were born and the cost of living got higher than what we were bringing in, and then single mother I had enough for us to have an okay Christmas. Back then it meant something. Christmas is for children. None of us are that now.
So this morning I said to Jim, “Do you mind we have nothing but a turkey this year?” Not at all, he says, we’ll have Christmas whenever he gets the money he’s owed or I sell the Jeep. We’re not holding our breath on that. I’m betting it’s Christmas in July.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not sad. I’m not anything really. I’m just looking forward to a few days off to write and paint, maybe play the guitar and to look back on the year that was and do my looking ahead. I am hopeful at least for me in my place in the world. I still dream that someday a publisher will like my writing and pick it up. Or maybe the public at large will find something special in one of my books and make it a best seller. Maybe there’s a Lotto Max in my future. See? There’s always hope.
Merry ba humbug unChristmas this year.