I woke up this morning feeling so grateful for my life. Christmas is coming and the Island King's business has been really slow this past month so for the past several days I've been stressed over finances. But last night I realized that I am so blessed and that no matter how difficult my life can be it could always be so much worse. I walked outside last night and noticed that the people who live a few houses down from us had a For Sale sign in their front yard. The Island King is friends with the man who lives there and I've met his wife a few times but don't know her that well. Their house is a big nice house that they built 3 years ago and I was really surprised to see them put it up for sale. I mentioned it to the Island King and he said Oh I forgot to tell you what happened to them. Right after they built their house the real estate market here exploded and suddenly all of the houses became outrageously overpriced. We bought our house almost 15 years ago at a ridiculously low price and we talked about selling when the market boomed but we like our house and our neighborhood but most importantly we LOVE our low house payment so we have stayed put. The Island King tells me that these neighbors refinanced at the new prices and invested in several other properties - which gave them potential real estate income but also gave them a $6,000 a month house payment. It wasn't long after that when the market dropped back down to normal and the investment properties they bought wouldn't sell at the high prices they bought them for. And she quit her job to dabble in the real estate market - which is now extremely stagnant - so they can no longer make their house payment. Their home has been foreclosed on and they are moving into a small apartment across town. I feel so bad for them. I can't imagine losing my home - especially a few weeks before Christmas! It really puts things into perspective for me. I was stressing over not being able to buy the Island Kids some of the more expensive items they want and the kids down the street are losing their home. I truly thanked God last night for the fact that my kids will have Christmas gifts - even if they don't get some of the more expensive stuff they want - and that they have the security of knowing that they are safe in our home. I always know how fortunate I am to live in a beautiful area and to have food and shelter but seeing someone so close lose everything really opened my eyes. We finished decorating our house yesterday and last night I sat in the living room enjoying the glow from the Christmas lights and realizing how blessed we are. No longer will I worry over the fact that we need new carpet or that the outside of the house needs painting or even how much gifts will cost. We have everything we need and then some and even if the kids got nothing but an apple for Christmas they would still be some of the most fortunate kids around. I really try to instill the true meaning of Christmas into my kids and last night taught me that lesson well. This season isn't about gifts - it's about the birth of Christ and he has given us so much to be thankful for. I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and once again thanked God for all we have. And as for the balance in my checking account? It will be plenty for what we need.