Christmas 2010 Part 7: The Christmas Letter

The Christmas Letter is a tradition I would like to see more of. I know it’s going by the wayside with blogs, facebook, twitter and rock-bottom long distance rates, but it’s so great to open a Christmas Card and get a story of one year in the life. You can take stock of all the important events that happened in the year to people you care about. As I’m getting older, I want to hear more about what my friends are doing, and what’s going on with their families. Yes, that means you, dear reader. But not to worry, I’ll start everyone off.

Once the dust had settled at the yearly New Year’s Bash at Sandy’s house in Seattle, I returned to a grim outlook for 2010. There were no jobs in sight. My EI benefits had dried up, and I was helping pay the bills through intermittent website contracts. It still didn’t stop me from squirreling away what little extra income we had. Sara and I were quite keen on owning a home, and I wasn’t about to let a little thing like the recession get in our way.

We looked high and low for a place that was in our price range. Everything we found either needed serious renovation or had dimensions that were too liliputian for my tastes. One weekend Sara and I went to check out this apartment building that my Mom had recommended. It was lovely. It had 2 bedrooms, a full balcony, a walk-through closet, and as I lived and breathed, 9-foot ceilings! After the tour I thought there was no way this would fit in our price range. But then, I saw the price.

Things moved along fairly quickly, and by the end of May we were all moved in. Along the way I learned a few things. Here they are, without going into too much detail:

-House purchasing is the exact level of complexity when all education and experience will fail you. Real dyed in the wool adults will forget to tell you important details, like whether your washer and dryer installation comes with the purchase.

-It’s your house, so don’t get excited over every nick and scratch you make moving everything in.

-While you can keep a cool exterior under stress, never, ever deny that you are stressed. Take some time for yourself to get a handle on things.

-Working on your computer on a deck in the Summer is awesome.

Now that I had the mortgage, there was still the matter of paying it off. After so many months without regular employment, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I decided to swear off of the job search and start my own business. The government was giving grants to people who had recent EI benefits, so I applied for one through the Fraser Valley Self Employment program. It was quite the process. I had to do market research over the phone, take stock of my finances, and fill out pages and pages of forms, but at the end of it all, my new company, V2S Web Design was born. I now have several clients in the Fraser Valley, and I hope to do a lot more business in the New Year. I’ve found a whole new dynamic community of entrepreneurs who are looking to make something out of this new economy.

In many ways, I feel like this was the year I really became an adult. Sure, there was the mortgage and the new business, but through that I’ve really had to take control of my own destiny. We are all our own best advocates in the decisions that really matter. People can give you advice, but when it really comes down to it, you’re the one in the driver’s seat. There’s still so much more work for me to do, but I think I’m coming at it from a much better place now. I hope you all are having a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. God Bless all of you, and stay golden.


James Strocel