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Excuse me, let me check myself - A lesson in Gratitude



By Felicia Clark


The holidays are the busiest time of the year. Even during a pandemic, people are doing their best to hold on to some sense of normalcy. I’m certainly not the exception...I have probably gone overboard with recreating traditions or trying to outdo the old way, with a newer, maybe even better, way. 


For example, this past Halloween, I grabbed a few bags of candy and some take-out from each child’s personal favorite restaurant. Therefore, there were burgers, pizza, Chinese food, you name it. I laid blankets and pillows on the living room floor. Then I turned on a scary movie. My family and I gathered together to feast on junk food and watch a scary movie. Voila! Halloween in full effect! 


Thanksgiving was just around the corner. Therefore, I was planning for yet another holiday. Usually, I would prepare a couple of dishes and go to my mother’s house to spend the holiday. Since my grandmother’s passing, most of my relatives would meet at my mother’s house to celebrate. 


Music and games were played. Imagine the ending scene of ‘This Christmas’ but in Wisconsin. Not this year. Due to the dreaded virus, it was mandated that everyone stayed home. A change from no more than ten people in a space.


Determined to make the best out of an already disturbing situation, I laid out all of my ingredients to prepare for our meal. After looking everything over, we assessed that we needed an extra pan and some aluminum foil. The children and I grabbed our masks and headed to the store.


On the way, we couldn’t help but notice the people living outside; tents posted in the park. The people standing at the medians, holding a cardboard sign. 


When we made it to our destination, I noticed the almost empty parking lot. An almost empty parking lot at a grocery store, the night before a holiday. I suddenly heard the echos of politicians during the election.... “We are in unprecedented times...” 


The children and I made our way inside, quickly grabbed what was needed, and made our way back home. That evening and part of the next day, I baked and cooked everything to perfection. The children were happy. I was happy. Another “New Normal” holiday conquered. I patted myself on the back, because this year the impossible was made possible. Yet again.


A couple of days later, while out driving, the battery signal on my dashboard came on. I took my car straight to the mechanic. I can’t put the battery in myself. Because of the way my car is set up, you have to remove the front end to locate the battery. 


After taking a look at my car, the mechanic informed me that it was the alternator, not the battery. Instead of costing me about $150, it’ll cost about $550. My jaw dropped. My mind started racing. 


Christmas is right around the corner. What about my children’s gifts? Where is that PS5? Can I even afford it now!? I got the alternator replaced. Because I’m an adult at the end of it all. 


After getting the car fixed, I returned home, feeling defeated and depressed. I entered our apartment, tossing my purse onto the couch. My eyes were red and swollen from crying.


“I failed my kids.”

“You are not ‘killing’ quarantine”.

“Failure is imminent. “


These were the thoughts in my head as I headed into the bathroom and took a long hot shower. As I washed my face, it dawned on me. 


I am blessed. We are blessed. We have a roof over our heads. There’s food in our fridge. So far, we have avoided Covid-19 infection, my kids and I have had drama free quality time. And we’ve managed every tragedy that hit us this year.


Not to mention, I had the money to actually get my car fixed. To feed my children, everyday. To live outside of chaos that we’ve experienced before. 


Then I started to think about the people living outside. All the families in the cold. And, of course, the threat of the virus. Especially amongst them.  I was so caught up in making everything as normal as possible. Trying to cover my children from the effects of what we are going through on a global scale. 


Forgetting to thank God for every moment He made possible. For everything that He has allowed us to have. I realized how much I had truly been granted and how I’d missed the real meaning of Christmas. Having a family. People to hug. That’s big. And because of that simple fact, we will be okay. 


In fact, we are okay. So thank you for allowing me to get myself together SistaGurls.

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