Pawn Shops, Watches, and Christmas
Everyone has a story. Here is one of mine. What do pawn shops, watches, and Christmas have to do with each other? Let me tell you. Right before my 24th birthday in December 1989 I had a wife, we had a new born daughter, and we were broke. Finances are very personal and can cause us to feel a lot of emotions. I recall feeling a lot of guilt and shame at that time. Guilt and shame that I was a husband and a father who could not afford to buy a Christmas tree and gifts for my family. I was not concerned about getting anything for my birthday. I wanted to provide what I believed was a proper Christmas for my family.
I was working at a bank on the North side of Chicago. One day during my lunch break I decided to go a pawn shop. I didn’t know anything about pawn shops. In fact, I had never been to one. I just heard about them on sitcoms on television. I had purchased a watch with a gift card I won on The Wheel of Fortune. It was a titanium and gold watch with a sapphire crystal. It cost $700, and I wanted to see how much money I could get for it. The guy behind the counter looked at the watch and said, “This is a nice watch! I can give you $100 for it.” I told him that I bought it for $700. He told me that is how it works. I told him that I would think about it.
The next day it was my birthday. I went back to the shop to pawn my watch. The guy asked me if I wanted a loan. I didn’t know what he was talking about. He told me that I could get a loan and pay it off and get my watch back. I was feeling so much shame and pain that I said no. I was caught up in my emotions. He asked if I was sure, and I said yes. Now, I wish I would have taken a loan but such is life. I gave him my watch, he gave me $100, and I never saw that watch again. That evening when my wife picked me up from work, we went to Walgreens to purchase a Christmas tree, lights, and decorations. When we got home we put up our first Christmas tree. It felt good in that moment. Every year after that we made it a tradition to put up our Christmas tree on my birthday. It is a great tradition but it began because of overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame.
Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year! Unfortunately, we can get so caught up in gift giving and what we have and/or do not have that we forget the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, it’s great to be able to give gifts, decorate your Christmas tree, and/or your house. But, it’s important to understand the true meaning of Christmas and the gift of love that God gave to us. Love we can experience and share whether or not we have anything else to give. Although you may be struggling financially for whatever reason, you don’t have to feel guilt or shame. It can get better. It will get better. I know because it got better for me. The hope of Christmas extends through the New Year and beyond. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. All the best to you and your loved ones.
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