Sunday, December 20, 2015


This year is coming to a swift end, which is normally when I wrap up the last 12 months in a single post.  This time, however, I just don't have it in me.  I don't have the energy to think back and try to remember select significant moments.  Instead, I want to talk a little about what this past year meant to me and my family.

2015 was not a banner year for the Sams fam, particularly the last 5 months.  It seemed we just couldn't get our heads above water financially, and the strain has taken a toll on us in a thousand different ways.  I ended up taking on extra hours at work in late September and have continued working these crazy hours much longer than I had hoped.  It looks as though they'll probably last through January, as well, but time will tell.  That being said, it has also been a humbling year because of a few key acts of kindness shown to us in our least shining hours.  

I have never been good at asking for help.  For me, it feels selfish and I feel like a failure if I can't somehow weave gold out of straw.  This year hasn't completely changed that side of my personality, but it has taught me the importance of gracious acceptance.  The biggest lesson in this was when I was trying to find a way to get Trinity to Arkansas to see her Papa.  What started out as a plan to sell everything I possibly could to gather the funds, transformed into a gofundme account, and then morphed again into a combination can-cashing operation/airline point redeeming/craft selling endeavor that got bigger and moved faster than I could have ever imagined.  And in the zero hour, a chunk of money came from the most unexpected source, and in that instance, it was as if this person who I had recently lost was making their one final gesture to care for me. That one hit me the deepest and hardest, taking the breath right out of me. In the end, we were able to make the trip 2 months before Trinity's Papa passed away.  Without everyone's help and generosity, that never would have happened.  There is no way to repay that kind of gift, but it changes you in ways you wouldn't imagine and pushes you to spread that same joy to as many people as possible just because it's too amazing and overwhelming to keep all to yourself.

More assistance came in the form of school supplies and party supplies/gifts for my oldest daughter. That particular time period was full of grief and stress as I tried to figure out how to provide her with the most basic and essential things, while already juggling bills just to keep our utilities on and our car from being repossessed. Some unnamed Saints stepped in and relieved that burden in the most beautiful and wonderful way.  Packaged neatly in cardboard boxes from Amazon, my daughter received nearly every supply she needed to start 7th grade, as well as presents and supplies for her 13th birthday party. Those were just the tangible things.  What those boxes really represented was a tribe of selfless people, seeing my strife and relieving me of it. That sensation of someone having my back is foreign to me, but the sense of love and caring they showed was so strong and pure, all I could do was cry in private for the gifts, both tangible and emotional, that they shared with someone they barely knew.

Over the course of the last 3 or so years, but more so recently, a member of my extended family has  randomly surprised me with cards in the mail containing checks or gift cards to help out with a variety of things from Thanksgiving dinner to birthdays to the Arkansas trip. Each one was unexpected and so very generous.  I find myself wondering how best to express my appreciation for the multiple times I've walked to the mailbox with a mind full of worry, only to have it washed away the second I open an envelope and see that she once again felt moved to send joy our way.

I have always been a person who has given what I can, when I can.  When I feel moved to somehow help another individual, I do it. Whether that be finding things I'm not using and passing them down to someone in need, donating a bit of money when there is some to spare, donating time to organizations I feel strongly about, or calling upon friends and family to pass along hand-me-downs or donations to people and/or organizations who need the help.  I've been blessed to have a wealth of opportunity to pass on the goodness shown to me and my family. This isn't meant to be a humblebrag, although I know it comes off that way.  I only mention my small contributions to society in hopes that the people who have helped me are reading this and know that I pay it forward every chance I get.  Their love does not end with me and my family. It is spread out into the world, and hopefully our little spark catches fire and spreads to even more people, and so on and so forth. Unless I ask a friend to lend a hand, no one besides myself and my hubs know that I do it. The point of giving is not to shout it from the rooftops for the world to hear. The point is to quietly show compassion and kindness to another human without a second thought to any personal gain or congratulations.

While 2015 was filled with personal struggles, the word I will associate with it is simple: gratitude.  Gratitude for the wonderful moments when someone found myself or my family deserving of a helping hand. Gratitude for the time spent with family and friends, some of whom are no longer with us.  And most importantly, gratitude for the chance to do my small part to make this world a warmer, gentler place.  Adulthood is hard and my ability to navigate seems shoddy, at best.  But I witness other people doing things they think no one really notices, or find myself on the receiving end of another person's generosity, and I am moved. My anxious little heart grows by leaps and bounds. I am grateful for it all. I am thankful for every second, good and bad, because each one brings about some kind of epiphany or renewed inner strength. It builds me up so that I can build others up, and it reveals a beautiful side to life that I sometimes forget in the chaos. Gratitude, people. I have it in spades.

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