For Cecilia James everything smelled, tasted, felt, sounded and simply was more visually appealing this Thanksgiving. From hugs to greetings to holiday decorations and, of course, the Thanksgiving Day feast, it all created sensory overload.
That’s because James is in a positive place this year—she’s got a job, a very good job that she enjoys, and she’s excited about the here and now as well as the future.
“It’s a big difference,” said James of how she feels this year compared to last. “I’m real happy. I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Things were markedly different last Thanksgiving.
James, a single mother of two living in Decatur, was four months into unemployment in November 2008, and depression was getting the best of her. Her 2-year-old son spent the holiday with his dad and family. James’ 22-year-old daughter was out of town. James recalled that she turned down invitations to be with friends and didn’t do much on Thanksgiving except pray, hang around the house and feel sorry for herself.
“I was so depressed I didn’t want to be around people,” recalled James.
This year, an upbeat James celebrated the holiday with a tradition Thanksgiving feast of turkey, greens, yams, etc. at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Ga., surrounded by family. It was also her daughter’s 23rd birthday.
After a year of unemployment, James now works for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax analyst. Although she’s been in training for the past three months, she said she’s thoroughly enjoying the job, its benefits and future opportunities. In addition to catching up on her bills–she was on the verge of losing her home and her car—James said she’s also been able to begin contributing 10 percent of her pay to a retirement fund.
“I am thankful for good health,” said James. “I am thankful for a unique and better job and opportunity for the future.”
During Christmas 2008 James experienced the generosity of friends who showered her son with gifts at a time when she couldn’t afford to buy him any. Now she’s is planning to pay it forward—intending to sponsor at least one family in need this Christmas.
“Christmas is about family, children. I know how it feels for a child not to have anything or a parent to feel depressed not to have anything,” she said.