This morning I spend some time reflecting on the past 12 months. If I’m honest, there was a lot of crying involved too. I think it’s something that most of us do in December. For many of us, it may be more important than ever to reflect on 2020 and discover what we have learned.
When we approached Christmas 2019, we did it with a sense of hope and excitement. It was supposed to be the last Christmas spent in our house. I originally bought the house that we currently live in with my ex-husband and we have more than outgrown it. There are now 7 people and a large dog living full-time in a relatively small 3 bedroom house. On top of that, the house holds a lot of triggering memories for me, which makes feeling ‘at home’ here very challenging. It was time to move on.
Just before Christmas, I had been offered a new job which had much better hours and pay. So, we were in a position to look at buying something substantially bigger. Our forever home.
January came and brought with it a sense of anticipation and excitement. We started to make appointments with mortgage advisors and estate agents, dipping our toe in to the market to see what our options were. We also casually browsed the listings online, unsure whether we wanted to stay local or move closer to the coast.
A week before the first national lockdown, we found a house. It was a 4 bedroom townhouse in Hastings, surrounded by woodland and with a lovely garden. The mortgage advisor scrambled to try and get an agreement in principle organised, but unfortunately it wasn’t in time. Lockdown happened, I was furloughed and then eventually made redundant. I found a new job, but within weeks the second lockdown arrived and so that was gone too.
The impact of this year on our finances has been catastrophic. We have gone from being relatively comfortable, to weighing up whether or not a car counts as a luxury we can live without and trying to decide whether new school shoes can wait an extra half term or if they’re really needed. Any spare money that we had was quickly decimated and within months we found that we had debts where before we had savings. I am incredibly thankful that my husband has been able to work the whole way through this year, otherwise I dread to think what the situation would be. We have squeezed budgets as tight as they go. There are now no fun activities or treat foods. There are no clubs, trips, holidays or special events. But there is hope.
Despite everything that has happened this year to knock us down, there is still hope. There is hope that next year will bring us better things. There is hope that I will find work again. There is hope that one day we will be able to make the move and find the house that we will grow old in.
On top of this, there are positives that have come out of this year. We discovered plenty of places within walking distance that the children love to explore. My 14 year old has become an accomplished cook and regularly gives me the night off of cooking. The children have become very good at creating meal plans within a budget which is something that they will be able to use when they are adults. My husband still has his job, so we do at least have a roof over our heads. I have also re-discovered my love of writing. It has given me an invaluable outlet over the last few months, a way to vent and process things which at times could have been too much.
Even though I won’t be sad to see the back of 2020 and the endless piles of poop it has dumped on all of us, I will at least be thankful for the lessons I have learned. We have a long way to go before we will be ready to start house hunting again, but we will get there. One step at a time.