I was looking through my Facebook timeline yesterday – something I rarely do, because mostly, I hang out in closed groups and share news articles – and I was absolutely shocked at how many of my friends have had a really lousy 2015! There have been deaths of loved ones, divorces, money issues, bankruptcies, illnesses… I was amazed to see how many of my friends and loved ones have gone through horrible hardships this year, and while misery sometimes loves company, I’m certainly not even remotely happy at the stresses and tragedies people I love have faced!
A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that he has been seeing fewer homes decorated for the holidays this year. I’m noticing a similar trend. It’s just not as festive as it usually is. Even the malls aren’t as crowded and festive this year. Has it been a bad 2015 for many? It certainly seems to be the case.
The year – by any standard – has been a nightmare. Between the thieving, lying child molester Cooper first stealing my house, and then causing thousands of dollars in damages, several court dates to evict the bastard, unsuccessful efforts to sell the house, the job trials and tribulations, the stress of moving into a smaller place (thanks, Cooper, you miserable, thieving fuck!), and some personal issues still being worked through, this year has been a bitch.
But through all the awful stuff that happened, a few bright points broke through the darkness that brought light and joy to my life. Danny heading off to college and having a wonderful freshman experience. Sarah graduating from the Defense Language Institute. My friends pulling together and helping me pay the legal costs of evicting Cooper and his housewrecking wench from my house. Two incredible friends, who wouldn’t take no for an answer after offering me a loan, and told me to pay it back when I could. A wonderful reader who handed me a new laptop when mine shit the bed earlier this year. My wonderful parents helping me make mortgage and rent payments, so my credit rating wouldn’t be impacted.
And looking back at this year, I realized something: Giving makes it better. Kindness makes it better. Acts of kindness blow out the negative and spread light. I had some points on one of my credit cards – quite a few of them, actually given the number of times I had to use it this year to help pay bills – so the other day, I donated those points as cash to a veterans’ association. I also made the first donation I promised to make after leaving some money for legal and collection bills, since I doubt the Coopers are honorable enough to pay for the damages the court has judged them to be responsible for. The Fisher House Foundation has received a $1500 today to help them build a new Fisher House.
Another donation will go to a local homeless charity that also helps homeless veterans – A-SPAN. That will happen probably tomorrow. I’m actually considering splitting this remaining gift between A-SPAN and a charity that helps victims of sexual abuse. Given Cooper’s sex offender status, I thought that was appropriate. I just need to find the charity. When my buddy Amanda started this drive to help us with legal bills, I promised that not a penny of it would go to my mortgage, because the last thing I wanted to do was use money honorable friends gave me to keep the child molesting squatters in my house. I swore I’d rather let it go to foreclosure, and promised to donate anything not used for legal bills (and, of course, fees from GoFundMe and PayPal) to charity. This is the first payment of that promise.
Last night, we were hanging out with some friends at Hard Times Cafe. As we were walking out, a woman came up to us. It was quite obvious she was homeless and had everything she owned, including a whole bunch of plastic bags, in a shopping cart. She came up to us, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Excuse me. Would any of you be able to buy me a sandwich?” Now, I’m not in the habit of throwing money at people who come up to me on the street, but food for someone who is hungry? That’s another story. Something in me pinged a little. I looked and her and said, “A sandwich? Come on.”
I took her inside, and she sat down at the table. We looked at a menu, and she asked for a barbecue chicken sandwich, some fries, and a root beer. She told me her name was Janice, and that she took a bus to Arlington from DC, because she was hungry and was hoping to find something to eat, as she’s diabetic, and not eating is a no-no. I introduced myself and shook her hand. She was wide-eyed and grateful. I don’t think she expected to get a full meal. Nor do I think she expected anyone to look her in the eyes and shake her hand like a human being. I paid the bill, gave the waitress some extra cash, and told her “Please take care of her. She’s homeless.” Then I walked out.
So why am I telling you this? Because given the number of my friends who have been dealing with an inordinate amount of crap this year, I think it’s time to blow out 2015. I realize we have a couple of weeks left in this horrid year, but you know what? I want to start stomping on it early. I want a head start of positives in 2016. I want to enter 2016 on a high note, not trying to scramble out of the darkness and misery that was this year.
So maybe we have experienced losses this year – both financial and personal – and maybe we aren’t exactly full of holiday cheer. Maybe all we want to do is hide in a corner and weep a bit. Do it. Get 2015 out of your systems, people! Blow it out early, and enter 2016 full of hope and joy! You don’t have to give money. Hell, most of us don’t have it to give. But you can help a clothing, food, or toy drive. You can spend some time to help grade-school kids read better. You can give some career counseling to a young person, help them with their resume, or help them network in their field.
Point is, don’t let 2015 defeat you. Get up and start kicking it in the ass early, and start 2016 stronger and more positive.