The holidays have arrived and I’m enjoying one of my favorite pastime activities; sitting in a mall with a good cup of coffee and watching the hustle and bustle of the crowds frunning frantically between stores. There’s a casual energy pulsing here at Easton Town Center, mixed with undertones of hostility between shoppers that nobody will ever admit to; the hidden fear that somehow the next guy/girl will grab a better deal than you, or somehow beat you to an item that you hadn’t yet set eyes on. I can’t help but take my hat off to the true reason for the season; Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.

Flashy imagry and blinking lights are a beautiful masquerade behind the hurt many carry during these times. The parent places her child on the fat lap of Santa Claus, who asks the child what they’d like for Christmas. The laundry list rolls on as the child tells of toys their parent will never be able to afford. However, it brings happiness to the child just to tell somebody who’s willing to listen.

Growing up, I remember we always had wonderful Christmas celebrations. However, as I’ve gotten older and have understood the cost behind hard work, I have received a new appreciation for the sacrifice our parents made so the day would be special. Sleep and dollars were sacrificed in order that we could receive a mountain of presents under the tree each year.

“$336.00 in bank. No savings. No investments.”

I’m taken back to the moment where I received my first dose of reality about the financial state of my parents at the time. Applying for financial aid and having to ask the difficult questions behind the heavy curtain of finances that was always maintained so well. Ouch.

I’ve worked very hard for the past few years to create a better life for myself/family than the one I was raised with. That being said, it’s been an impossible uphill battle to escape from a lifestyle where all you know is paycheck to paycheck, pained smiles, and cars many years past their expiration date. There are days where it seems more likely for a paralyzed man to get up and run a marathon. Smash my bones and break my legs — I will continue to climb on bloody feet until a better life is realized.

Dear Santa, I don’t want any expensive toys or shiny objects. But it would sure as hell be nice to expereince a life where finances are no longer tight as a drum, or where the unexpected expense is enough to tip the scale. A world where the check engine light doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack or medical exams are seen as necessity, rather than an expense to avoid.

We are supposed to learn most of our lessons from our father. This is certainly the case with my father. However, I learned many things from him about what not to do, rather than how to be successful. I cannot reitterate enough that I am not bitter about the upbringing I experienced, but it was certainly debilitating to have been raised in a household where success and money – reality – was given second seat to religious beliefs and blind faith for provision.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said “Don’t Quit” suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Ali

It would be very easy to simply accept mediocrity and average for a lifestyle. It would be the simple thing to take secondhand cars, rental living situations, and a life with no assets, savings, or investments. It would be easy to never reach for more. In the past, those who stuck their necks out past their peers were often the first to have their heads removed. Honestly, I would sooner reach for something better than what I have, and die trying to pursue a better life, than to simply accept mediocrity and a lifestyle I could never be proud of.

The pursuit of a better life isn’t about materialistic items. Those are side effects. A better life means freedom to live in such a way that you take control of your future, present, and past. Where you call the shots, rather than dodge bullets. It’s a life where you stop becoming the victim and step into the mode of being a victor.

If it’s sinful or somehow lacking faith to have enough money in your bankk account to cover all your bills and not have any stress, then ship me off to hell for wanting to be a sinner. However, I believe in the idea that we are given a responsibility in this life to make the most of what we’ve been given, including financial responsiblity. And I have a hard time believing it’s sinful to pursue a lifestyle of millions when the Creator has given you the mindset and ability to obtain them. To shirk this responsiblity is akin to the parable of the talents, where the servant was afraid to use/lose what he had been given, thus receiving the harsh rebuke from the Master.

Dear Santa….

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