December 4, 2006

How One Tradition Got Started

I left my children's father in the summer of 1996. I had a 2.5 year old and I was 3 months pregnant. I moved to a state where I knew no one but my parents. Those first few months were hard. I felt pretty alone at times. I was also dirt poor. I had tons of bills to pay off while at the same time I was trying to make a new start for my son and I, and my unborn baby. We didn't have much to do back then. I was trying to find a job and didn't have any friends close by, so T1 and I would spend Friday nights walking around Walmart for hours on end, just to get out of the house. We never bought anything we didn't need, although I always made sure he got some little toy or new sippy cup. On Sunday nights after church T1 like to go to "Donald's" (Mc Donald's). He would ask almost weekly. We went a least once a month but often times it was just him who got to enjoy eating the fries we so dearly loved while I only got to enjoy the smell. Yes, we were that poor. Sure I could have asked my parents for a couple bucks so I could have had some fries too, but they were helping me so much I didn't feel like I could ask for another dime. Most of the time I was searching for change just to get T1 his fries. During the Christmas season T1 loved to look at Christmas lights. We would drive all around with our fries and look at lights. (Gas wasn't quite as expensive then.) We would drive all over our small town, just him and I. We also had an old Christmas tape of songs I had recorded off some of my parent's old Christmas albums. We would play that tape over and over. I remember a newer subdivision that we would drive through to see the lights. Everyone seemed to catch the Christmas spirit early in that subdivision and always had their houses so nicely decorated. I remember thinking to myself during one of our drives around this subdivision that I would love to live in this neighborhood but then in my next thought thinking that at that point I would have been happy just to be able to have enough money to buy McDonald's every once in awhile. Well, in 2000 I started my own business and was making pretty good money, not great but good enough to buy both my sons and myself fries anytime we wanted. In the summer of that same year we moved into the subdivision I had dreamed of living in all those lonely nights. We still drive around and look at lights and this year will be our 10th year of this tradition. Somehow in the last few years we've added hot chocolate to the mix. We have to have it while looking at the lights at least a couple times. And always on Christmas Eve! We usually go to the Christmas Eve service at church and then get our hot chocolate and hit the streets looking at lights and listening to our old tape of Christmas music. To me, it's better than any big fancy Christmas party. I hope that years from now we'll still be driving around with our hot cocoa looking at lights together. I think back to how lonely I was and how driving around was all we had to do, and I'm sure at the time I would have rather been doing anything but that, and probably felt a little sorry for myself at times. I think I even cried a few tears during those drives around town. Today however, I look back at my new little family and how even during those hard times we were still able to making something so wonderful out of something not so great, something money couldn't buy... we were making traditions. And those are priceless! I can't wait to rev up the old Christmas tape, grab some hot chocolate and drive around our subdivision. Maybe we'll even add some "Donald's" fries in this year.