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 Wellston Publishing Grits n Gravy    by Charles Wells

December 2011

Hard to believe its December already and my September truck payment, after three unsuccessful attempts, finally cleared the bank. The good news, once it cleared, they turned around the repo truck that was backing into my driveway. The bad news, the next three checks coming through the account bounced higher than my brother in law at a bar near closing time.

Our financial priorities this time of year shift from dire needs (car payments, house, electric bill etc) to Christmas needs. (Gifts for the loved ones, kids, mom, dad, spouse etc)  I can remember days when I worked in the TV repair business back when we made home service calls. I have gone inside homes that were being held up by duct tape and God. I've crossed a living room floor strewn with trash, filth, and lord knows what else. I was carrying a toolbox and replacement parts in a case that was worth more than the entire house and property. Adding insult to injury, while on my way to the TV set, I passed four children who were sitting around in front of the broken device waiting on me to get it going again. They were wearing ragged, filthy clothes and looked underfed. They reminded me of those ads on TV begging for money to feed starving kids Africa. I've never seen a TV ad asking for me to help feed starving kids living across town before, have you?

Anyway, I entered that house and walked past all that so I could reach a $1000 (1972 dollars) TV set that needed fixing. Once fixed, I would write out a bill that would have fed all four kids and hired a maid to clean up that room with enough left over to pay the electric bill for the month. I use to have guilt trips about it, nightmares at night even. I can recall several times I got into hot water with my boss because I "short cut" the bills a few times. (Didn't charge full labor costs or maybe a replacement part was "lost" somewhere by accident. (Coughs loudly)

I asked a preacher once, "Is it wrong to steal"

"Yes it's wrong. Thou shalt not steal is in the bible."

"Okay, but what if I steal from my boss to help out a family?"

"Then you are stealing from your boss. Robin Hood, regardless of what most think, was a thief no matter what he did with the things he stole."

I'm glad to say that I never set foot inside that Preacher's Church but I did go inside his nice neat expensive house and repair his ten year old pile of junk TV.  (And he got hit with the full bill too.) So, what is the matter with people?  Where are their priorities?  Why did the family mentioned earlier own such an expensive TV set yet they risked falling through the rotted wooden floor while watching it?  How many meals did those kids miss paying for it?  It never made sense to me, not back then or today.  I've gone inside mint condition homes, spotless, beautiful, and the woman of the house would blush with embarrassment when I moved the TV set and a lone speck of dust would flitter out from underneath.  I've gone inside homes that still give me nightmares too and I've told you about one of those already.  My entire point is this.  With Christmas almost here, and with our finances in more disarray than we care to admit, there has to be a reasonable priority in our lives. We have to say "this is how I can afford to live and no seemingly easy offers for fast credit will cause me go skipping off like a rock on water into the wonderful world of collection agencies.

Sadly, that theology also applies to gifts we give at Christmas. In my case, I would love to give my son and his wife a new Ipad but that's seven hundred dollars. Oh sure, I could let another truck payment take off like something from NASA, but facts are facts. My electric bill this month would cost my 1956 father, three months' salary. The money it takes to fill up my vehicle with gas today (and operate it for a week at 28mpg) would operate my father's 1951 Chevy (300 feet per gallon) for almost a year.

Christmas priorities should be financial but never hold back emotionally. If you love somebody then be sure and tell them so. If you feel the urge to hug 'em, then hug 'em. If you can't buy them an expensive gift, then give them an invaluable memory of your expression of love. That's what Christmas is all about on the human side of the holiday. The spiritual side, meaning a celebration of the birth of Christ, is a whole other blog article.

Merry Christmas to each of you and I do love having you join me here each time.

Charles Wells





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