IMG_3142Last month, I was a mess. I was in a flat spin and spiraling my way into a deep, deep depression. I was even doing things like listening to country music, which is a good way to tell just how awful things are. It moves along a sliding scale, starting with Dolly Parton and ending somewhere around Kenny Rogers, which – if you’re listening to anything other than The Gambler – is when you know you’re nearing rock bottom.

Personally, I started by absentmindedly humming Hard Candy Christmas and worked my way down to listening to Kentucky Homemade Christmas in a parking lot while choking back tears and wondering where it all went wrong.

Christmas can be awful.

Later that day, I posted this: Trey’s Christmas Fund. It was a shot-in-the-dark, last ditch effort to try and appeal to the all seeing goat of the Internet for a small sip of the milk of human kindness. Which I guess in this metaphor would actually be goat’s milk, which I’ve always thought was kind of gross for some reason, so maybe let’s just go with human milk. Except that’s actually worse, because that has to mean breast milk and oh god what the hell is the milk of human kindness, anyway? I can’t imagine it’s anything not gross.

But that’s not the point.

Screw the Elf on the Shelf. We got a Dwarf in a Drawer!

Screw the Elf on the Shelf. We got a Dwarf in a Drawer!

The point is, I was desperate to give my kid – the objectively best kid on ever on the planet – some kind of a Christmas that didn’t involve me turning tricks outside a Dollar Tree for enough money to buy a couple of things inside a Dollar Tree. He’s an amazing, wonderful nine-year-old boy, with a heart as big as Texas and a smile larger than…wait. I’m slipping into metaphor again, which kinda freaked me out a minute ago. Let’s just say he’s awesome and deserves way more than I could ever give him, even if I were a rich man. (Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.)

So I wrote the post. Then I posted the post. Then people read the posted post, and then the most amazing thing happened: it worked. People began sending me money.

Almost immediately, I started getting little dingle-ding-ping notifications from PayPal. People were helping. ME. Or, rather, they were helping Trey – who, let’s face it, is a much more likable guy than I’ll ever be.

IMG_3327For the next few weeks, that little notification kept going off. $5 here, $25 there, $2, $7… – each notification was someone out there who gave a crap. Some came from people I know, some didn’t. Some people surprised me, some didn’t. But every last cent that came in went not only a long way toward saving Christmas for my little boy, but it saved me, too. Restored my faith in humanity, sort of thing. Without getting too sappy about it, you understand.

I’d planned on writing a personal thank you to each person who helped out, but then again, I only expected a few people to help out. I never imagined there would be so many people out there who would care at all about the problems of some little family in some little no name Texas town. Anything I could try to write as a personal thank you would quickly turn into a form letter somewhere around the I don’t even know what number, because I lost count of how many email notifications I was getting.

That isn’t to say that we struck it rich with your donations or anything. Most of them were very modest contributions that added up to us being able to give Trey a modest Christmas (slightly above really, thanks to a couple of really good sales and Amazon lightning deals). But there were a lot of them. Every single dollar helped, and all the small contributions quickly added up to larger presents, but I still have the post-Christmas crash to deal with, same as everyone else.

The traditional post-Christmas coma.

The traditional post-Christmas coma.

Except I’m not just confronted with eating Beanie Weenies every night in January to make up for what I spent in December. I’m not more broke than I was a month ago – I’m the same broke. Because you can only ever really be just so broke. I don’t have credit cards, but I also don’t have money to pay the mortgage, and the bank is breathing down my neck. Foreclosure looms. I’m going to have to start juggling which utility works this month, and which one we can do without until next month. I still don’t know how we’re going to pay Trey’s school tuition for the rest of the year. Basically, everything is just as crappy as it ever was – but at least we gave Trey a good Christmas.

At least he still doesn’t know anything is wrong. At least he went to bed on the 24th still believing in Christmas Magic, and woke up on Christmas Day to see it realized. And, at the very least, I still have that memory to hold onto while I continue fighting to keep the rest of our world from crumbling around us.

And you guys made that happen.

image2I don’t know if I could’ve made it through this Christmas without what all of you did for us. I don’t know if I could’ve watched him walk into the living room Christmas morning, to see his face as reality came crashing over him like a horrible tidal wave. He still believes good always triumphs over evil, that love wins out over hate, that good people are out there in the world doing good things, and that he’s one of them.

And you know what? I think maybe he’s right.

Despite every horrible thing that has happened this year, after what happened this Christmas, I’m a little less cynical. A little less jaded. A little less defeated.

Because good does triumph. Love does win. And good people are out there in the world, doing good things. You magnificent bastards are proof of that, which is just one more thing I’m grateful for.

You grew this Grinch’s heart this year.

All three sizes. And then some.

© 2015 – 2016, Kristian Bland. All rights reserved.