The gift I wish I could give

Howard and I have had more than a dozen christmases in which to give each other gifts. Mostly the gifts were ordinary. They were things we were glad to have, but don’t really remember years later. A few gifts do stand out. One year Howard gave me a sewing machine and a serger and two tables for them out of a Christmas bonus that was much larger than he’d fessed up to. Another year Howard was drooling over a sword in a catalog without knowing that it was sitting under the christmas tree three feet away from him. I’d ordered it and managed to keep it secret.

I’m usually pretty good at knowing what Howard would like. I’m also pretty good at managing to get it under the tree without him suspecting. This year I know Howard’s heart’s desire exactly. Unfortunately it isn’t something I can wrap. Howard wants cartooning to pay enough money so that we can keep this lifestyle we’ve grown to love. That is the gift I wish I could give.

Movies, games, clothes, are all trinkets. None of that could compare with knowing that a year from now we’ll have started putting money back into savings instead of constantly pulling it out. If we continue pulling money out of savings at our current rate then it will all be gone before next Christmas. Sometimes I contemplate this and I am afraid, not that we’ll starve or lose the house, because Howard would give up cartooning before allowing that to happen, but that we’ll have to give up Howard working here at home doing work that he loves.

When I feel this fear I have to sit back and contemplate the events of the past 18 months. At the time Howard left Novell, we only had enough savings to carry us through 3 months. We knew that before he quit and we prayed and felt very sure that quitting was the right decision for our family. We stepped out in faith and through (non repeatable) circumstances that we could not have forseen we found ourselves a year later with 12 months of savings. I can only hope that next Christmas I’ll be able to look back and see yet another set of miracles. This last year of Howard being a cartoonist has been a gift. It seems greedy to want another gift just like it, but I do.

I watch Howard tweaking the advertising on the site trying to make more money come out. I watch him work, and stress, and be depressed. I wish I could give to him the assurance that it will all be alright. I do feel that it will be alright. Somehow despite everything I’m convinced that cartooning is still the best choice for our family. And somehow I believe that we will get that miracle that will let us continue. I just wish I could see how. And I wish I could wrap it and put it under the tree for him. That is the only gift I can think of that would make him as happy as he makes me every day just by being here.