Things you take for granted

It’s not until you have almost nothing, that you recognize what is important. Take today, for instance.

There were two items I received that made me shout “woo hoo!” The first was a six pack and the other was a 1 1/2 foot tall Christmas tree.

When you’re living on SNAP, you get assistance with food, and that’s it. No cleaning supplies, no food storage supplies, no paper supplies, nothing that is not edible. And it’s a good thing because there have been many times we would forego substantial (or as a dietitian might say, nutritious) food purchases to buy medicine or pay a bill from a creditor that is constantly calling to be paid.

There’s nothing like hearing your phone ring multiple times beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. day in and day out.

So sometimes, when you are lacking actual cash, you have to do without.

You use less dish soap, less toothpaste or opt for something different like baking soda. You travel less. No more trips for sightseeing purposes, no more multiple trips into town because you forgot something. No, you make a list the night before of all that you can remember you need to do and you figure out the best and shortest way to get to where you need to go. No window shopping, no stopping because you saw a sign that indicated the nursery had a sale on potted plants or yard decorations. Then you go home.

No, all those little extras go out the window, when you don’t have the money.

And it’s ok to a certain extent. You tell yourself those are wants not needs. Heck you don’t even look at sales circulars because not only is your gasoline limited, but seeing all those items reminds you that you have no money.

But there’s one thing that is awfully, awfully hard to live without and when you cannot buy it, you find a substitute. But when the stand-in gets low and there’s no money on the horizon, you start to feel desperate.

Luckily, today, a friend sent a box with some gifts that had been accumulating over some time.

In it, there was this little white Christmas tree, that she had crocheted with her own two hands. Simply beautiful.


Because she suffers from fibromyalgia and every day is a struggle for her to go to work at a hated government entity (oh yes – you’ve probably guessed it – the IRS), be a single mom of two teenage boys, tend to her mother dying from cancer, her now passed-on grandmother and a close friend, both of whom died one day apart from each other.

She does this all while living in New York on Long Island and maintaining her three bedroom, two bath home, that dropped 50 percent in value after the bottom dropped out of the stock market in 2008.

She’d made the gift and decorated for … me. And it’s one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received, if not the nicest. I’ll cherish it always.

Oh, and the six pack that made my day so exciting, that thing I found out you just have to have?

It was a package of six rolls of toilet paper.



About GMFarthing

Gina Farthing is a freelance journalist, writer and graphic designer. She earned her BFA majoring in graphic design and minoring in advertising, marketing and business communications. Gina has worked in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia as a copy editor, ad designer, features editor, reporter, website designer, interim city editor, graphic designer, newsletter editor and photographer for the last 18 years. She has produced various communications materials for local, national and international academic, governmental, public and private organizations, including for news media and public broadcasting service audiences. Prior to going into business for herself, Gina’s most recent employers included. Her work encompassed publications such as The Waynesboro News Virginian, the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, the Reidsville Review, Eden Daily News, Danville Register & Bee, the Draft, Rocktown Weekly, Shenandoah Journal, North Fork Journal, the Shenandoah Valley Business Journal, The Valley Banner, Real Estate Weekly and Bloom magazine.
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