Back in 2008 the economy was not doing that great… Scratch that it was just as bad as the Depression era. Housing prices inflated, unemployment was off the charts and tons of people were suffering financially. The wealthy America the modern world knew and marveled crashed just as the housing market crashed, plummeted really. So obviously a giving, generous and commercialistic holiday such as Christmas was a financially awkward time of year.
2008 was also a year of change and shifts in to a certain newly single mom, my own. She was stuck raising three unappreciative children on her own and unemployed. Sure the food stamps and other government checks were helpful but nonetheless scavenging for an opportunity to support her family was becoming hopeless.
Until a national department store was closed down. You may remember the name, “Mervyn Department Store.” It was like Kohl’s but with less quality stuff but still had decent stuff, basically. Anyways my mom found temporary work right around the holidays since the store was closing down right after the calendar year ended.
She worked double shifts like no other, and she worked hard for her children. Times were tough but at least she was able to feed three growing children and we, her constantly growing children, were grateful. It was a Christmas miracle. We did not expect any Christmas presents (since at this point we understood that Santa wasn't real…spoiler alert). At this point we understood how severe the economy hit our family and even others terribly so we did not expect any presents at all, and we were okay with it.
However each of us got something for Christmas. I received a portrait of a close-up of a flower field for my bedroom wall. It was black-and-white filled with daisies going through all kinds of blooming stages Most of there were fully blossomed while others were just little buds.
My mom explained that it was a portrait at her workplace that was displayed in the women’s clothing section and decided to take it with her. She apologized that she couldn’t give me more, especially since my birthday was five days later. I mean what 7 year old wants a hand-me-down (former department store) bedroom decor as a combination gift?
However even as a child my artsy side began to blossom like the buds in the photograph. I thought it was simplistic, but beautiful and meaningful. To my 7 year old self, it was the most artistic, sophisticated present I had ever seen.
I happily thanked my mom, but not just for the gift itself but her thoughtfulness. I know that she’s my mom and she’s supposed to love me and stuff, but I knew the hard time she was going through. We didn't have a man in the house to protect us, provide for us. She assumed both roles as mother and father, caretaker and financial provider. To me she was a super parent. She still is.
Every time I see it hanging on my bedroom wall, I burst with positivity and rejuvenation and not just the photo suggest the blooming of a new era of hope and the chance of happiness, but also because it was a gift given through the hardest of time, a token of my mother’s love and devotion for my success and a reminder that I have to do my part as her daughter.
I’m not saying I was the perfect daughter, in fact there were times I was regrettably terrible to her especially in my teen years. But I learned that I had to step up, help her when she needed help, look after my brothers when she needed a break from being a working mom, admit I was wrong even though I didn't understand how, and appreciate that I have her in my life.