Since I need to give thanks in 2020, I have to figure out how I should frame it. Usually, at the beginning of the following year, I address a series of questions. I thought I would try one of them right now.
Are you richer or poorer?
The answer is yes. On one hand, I/we are quite grateful that my wife managed to keep her job during the pandemic, no small thing since her husband is retired. She didn’t get laid off then rehired as a full-time substitute, which reportedly happened in a local school district.
On the other hand, we have taken on additional debt. We got a new car. Plus we took out a home equity loan to fix the back porch. This is not an aesthetic decision, either. The inside of the porch roof is falling down and, when it rains, the stairs are like an ice rink.
Still, it was nice to discover that the assessed value of our house is greater. The improvements we made in the past decade, replacing the front porch, redoing the bathroom, and even replacing the shed proved to be worthwhile investments. In fact, we could have borrowed more money; we chose not to.
I made some extra cash working the Census. This meant that when the batteries on the lawnmower died, it was not a source of distress. I could just get more. In fact, the Census was good because it forced me to get dressed and leave the house. Because none of us were going out much in the spring, we saved on clothes. We also didn’t go out to eat as often, even when we tried to make up for it with takeout from the local restaurants.
With a full year on Medicare and supplemental insurance under my belt, so far, so good. I didn’t know whether the money I get from my former employer would be adequate to cover the costs. Since my wife and daughter are still under my insurance, even though I am not, this works out well, too. Even though I was inarguably underpaid, the benefits have proven to be good.
I also got unexpected money, from my local newspaper’s contests more than once to $150 from Wells Fargo.
It occurs to me that I’m not really thinking of this year over year. I’m surely better off since I got married. We were really broke when we got hitched. My bride decided to quit her decent-paying but soul-sucking job. Buying anything seemed ill-advised.
Now, I can indulge in what a friend of mine called crisis consumerism. I’d pretty much swore off buying any more music when I retired. THAT’S off the boards. An Elvis Costello reissue on eBay. Linda Ronstadt from a dealer on Amazon in the UK. Graham Nash and Lucinda Williams from a library sale for $1 each. And more Rhiannon Giddens.
I’m thankful for more than filthy lucre and what it can buy me. I am quite thankful for people, even if it’s mostly on ZOOM or some such. I’m sure I’ll get more into it in a few weeks.