It was December, 2010, my younger sister Vivian invited me to attend a Woman’s Ministry Christmas Dinner at her church in an upper class community in Awatukee. Christmas is a time of joy, peace, and giving, but I did not want to go because I had actually turned into a Scrooge. It was just the summer before I had separated from my husband of 29 years, our grown children were devastated, and would not have anything to do me, and my health began declining do to overwhelming stress and depression. My world came crashing down and my sister just wanted to see me laugh again. We always had fun together. Every year she and our friends would go out and have a girls’ night, and I was the clown. I’m sure it was hard for her to see me so bitter, and she just wanted me to have a good time. I had dreaded meeting her friends because I did not think we had much in common. They were successful in their trades, and I did not feel successful at anything at the time. My trade had been in the cleaning business for 28 years, but I just felt like a cleaning lady; I did not think I would fit in, and they were the wrong crowd for me.
My thoughts of the event throughout the day could have won a marathon for the most excuses in a single day. I called my sister first thing that morning and told her, I don’t have anything to wear.” She said, “I can let you borrow something.” I responded, “What would we talk about? They might ask me questions about mops, vacuums, and how to remove carpet stains? I don’t know if I can make it, I might get off work too late.” She said, “We will have a good time, just come.” When I had failed to convince her to think at my lower class level, I just called her later in the day and told her I was sick, but even that didn’t go well with her. She’s my sister, and she knows when I’m telling a lie. I couldn’t let her down. I finally made the decision to go and at least pretend I was having a good time. I had a really nice red dress hanging in the back of the closet. It was a little old but a quick dust and a nice fake pearl necklace, and ear-rings livened it up. “Maybe soft perfume will take the musty smell away” I thought. I even made it home early enough from work to go have my hair styled. It had been a long time since I dressed that nice, I actually looked really good. Again I thought, “If my husband could see me now, he definitely would complement me, and ask why I stopped making an effort to dress nice and have my hair combed and curled more often. Pony tails and jeans does get a little old, and this little effort started to make me feel a little better about myself.”
As I walked in, the greeter at the door was very friendly and I immediately noticed everything beautifully decorated. The tables were covered with white embroidered linen table clothes, topped with lit candles dressed with garland. The cloth napkins lay neatly folded, and the silverware were perfectly set in place, and the Chrystal wine glasses were placed to the right, above the dinner plates. The banquet room had a warm comforting feel, and everyone seemed to be relaxed, and having a good time. I even felt the tension subside from the battle I had in mind that whole day. I thought, “What a waste of energy.” I was also reminded of the times my husband, Jess and I would go to the extreme to decorate our home for our family, just like this. We would make tamales, menudo, cookies, and drink egg nog with family and friends. Christmas was our favorite holiday. My heavy heart began to lighten. When my sister had seen me walk in, she signaled and pointed at the seat she saved for me. She immediately introduced me to her friends and said, “I want to introduce my sister Lisa, she owns her own cleaning business. I am very proud of her.” I was surprised, I actually just wanted to be introduced, then ignored, but her friends engaged in conversation and did not ask me about mops, vacuums or what the best carpet stain remover is. They were all very nice and funny, we laughed a lot and I even told some dumb jokes!
As I drove home that evening, I reflected on my old habits and the kind of people I associated with. My choice of friends were the kind of people who kept me down by feeling sorry for me. They could have pitied me to death. I associated with the wrong crowd, and I needed to adjust my attitude and make better friend choices. I also felt really bad because I presumed the worst. I was bitter and I had a bad attitude. My assumptions were proved wrong and I wasted a whole day assuming the worst of people. That evening I made new friends. A good crowd of women who were kind and accepting. They later challenged me to get counseling and make changes in my life, which put me on a better path. My husband and I will be celebrating our 31st anniversary this August, and our children have also reconciled with us. I don’t think my life change would have happened if I continued living in the same old routine. I needed a new crowd of friends to challenge me to make changes, which led me here to college now.