Categories Holiday

It’s Okay To Be Sad At Christmas

Its-okay-to-be-sad-at-christmas

 

It’s okay to be sad at Christmas.

This morning, I took a call from a grieving daughter who desperately needed help to sell her late parents’ belongings and their homes. Their very livelihoods. Everything. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I’m relatively new to this business but my coworkers are no strangers to seeing this every single day of every single week of every single year.

I went to the office next door and I was visibly shaken. By the look on my face, my VP and friend knew exactly what kind of call I just took. She pulled up one of the many of her Google reviews of clients simply wanting to be heard. Just listened to. Just everyday people with everyday hearts openly grieving. It’s our job here at Gulf State Homebuyers to make sure that every transaction and interaction happen with the utmost honesty and integrity because we, too, are everyday people with everyday hearts.

I remember watching The View, and Meghan McCain, daughter of the late John McCain, made a statement that really resonated with me. The cohosts went down the panel asking how each of their Thanksgivings went, and when they got to Meghan, she took her moment to recognize that not everyone had a cookie cutter holiday experience. Her father passed away last year, and she shared with everyone that she was sad on her Thanksgiving. She was honest, raw, and unfiltered. She said “It’s okay to be sad during the holidays.” Instead of shying away from the darker side of a beautiful time, she was taking ownership of her sadness. It’s startling to read the statistics that reveal that despite the Christmas cheer so many of us marvel in, so many people are more depressed during the holidays than any other time of the year.

This thought has stayed with me throughout most of the day. We live in a time where social media consumes us, and we can tap into anyone’s life with a simple click or scroll. We’re accustomed to sharing the good, which gives a filtered misconception of what life is really like. Example: The Facebook photo of the “amazing” potato salad from your “amazing” mother in law (that in all actuality, made you amazingly gag) or the picture perfect staged Christmas card photos, that were the product of you screaming at your children to “LOOK HAPPY!!!” in the 80 degree Texas heat, as they roll their eyes in their itchy winter clothes. Christmas is the most magical time of the year for me personally, but for some people, it isn’t…

For a grieving widow, it may mean her first Christmas without her husband, and her children’s first Christmas without their Dad.

For a foster child, it may mean another holiday passing by without a family to call their own.

For an empty nester, it might mean her first Christmas Eve without tucking her now grown “babies” into bed.

For some, it might be the first holiday with a broken family. The first holiday away from your kids.

For others, it’s Christmas in a hospital, burdened by the strain of an illness.

For some women, it’s the unwavering longing to buy presents for a baby that they never could conceive.

For some, the holidays will be a painful reminder of the Christmas memories spent with a mother or a father who is now in Heaven. Traditions that used to have meaning, now just feel numb without them here.

It is important to feel grateful for the love & spirit that the holidays bring, but we can look to the story of the first Christmas as a reminder that there is still room on Christmas for the real & the raw. As children, we are rehearsed to know the story of the perfectly polished manger scene and impeccable baby Jesus born as our Savior. The TRUE meaning of Christmas. As adults, we can appreciate that although this was without question the greatest night in the history of EVER, it was not a night complete without its own load of anguish and sadness. Remember that Mary & Joseph were homeless. They were pushed aside, rejected and treated like criminals. They were alone, relying on faith for the greater plan that was soon to come. There was fear and darkness, but most importantly there was truth. The undying, unifying truth that would set them free. That would set us ALL free. This assures me that there is plenty of room in every Christmas for truth. Your OWN truth. Whether that truth consist of having yourself a merry little Christmas or just flat out feeling sad.

It’s time that we reclaim the holidays and be honest with ourselves. It is quite alright to “feel.” For some, that may be the feeling of sadness or anguish, or a darkness you are struggling with but can’t quite put your finger on. Allow yourself to feel that. If your holiday is a little more glittery than that, by all means – revel in it. Deck the halls, keep Alexa on an endless loop of Christmas carols, binge watch all the Hallmark movies, stuff your face with endless cheat foods, and make some time, within all of that Christmas glory, to reach out to someone who may not be feeling the same glittery bliss that you are. In the season of “comfort and joy”, comfort one another.

Share your joy. Most importantly, be your own truth. Reach out to someone this Christmas.

I know we are making it our personal mission to do so.

Categories Holiday, Tips

Prepping For Winter

Prepping-for-winter

 

Here at Gulf State Homebuyers, homes are our business. Founded in 2006, we have seen our fair share of what happens to properties when they’re not getting the attention they need. Homes need people.

One of the key factors in how our company has been able to thrive for many years is by buying neglected homes after some force of nature has made it nearly impossible for the homeowner to handle. We love being able to help our community. But there are ways to avoid being overwhelmed by the circumstance.

          Take the time to protect your investment.

The middle of fall is a wonderful time to start thinking about your home maintenance and start preparing for colder weather. Sure, southeast Texas usually shows us all 4 seasons in a week’s time—but that’s all the more reason to PREPARE for anything.

Here are a few things you can do to get ready for the winter and help keep your home happy:

Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system(s)

Most heating and air systems typically last 12 to 15 years. We see systems that are pretty much dead at 10 years and we see systems that are still going strong at 20 years. A lot of this has to do with how they’re maintained. (Notice the pattern here.)

Before the weather turns frigid, take the time to change your filters, at the very least. We recommend having the system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor. Better yet, maybe even explore getting an annual maintenance agreement. Have the contractor check your system and make sure your heat is going to work when you need it to. It’s much better to find an HVAC problem in the moderate temperatures of the fall than it is to find your furnace doesn’t work during a hard freeze or your ac doesn’t work during a SETX summer.

Check your drainage

Make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled, creating areas for water to pool at your foundation. If you find a low spot, simply fill it in with some soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary. Saturated soil around a foundation can create real problems as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.

Clean your gutters

Once the leaves are pretty much off the trees, it’s time to clean those gutters. When your gutters back up, they overflow, and when they overflow, that water runs down your home, speeding up the deterioration of your exterior. It can also lead to deterioration of your foundation, water infiltration in the bottom floor, sometimes even the walls that share the clogged gutter, and to settling under your concrete porches and walks, which creates all kinds of problems. Gutter screens are highly recommended, but you will need to perform maintenance on those as well. They’re typically not a fix-all.

Clean your chimney and order firewood

Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start building those cozy fires in the next couple of months. A good chimney sweep company will make sure the fireplace is safe to use, and it can also identify maintenance problems. Make sure you check out our YouTube channel for our demonstration and list of preferred contractors to assist.

This is also the time to order that load of firewood or start collecting dry, freshly chopped wood yourselves. Take the time to stack and cover that wood in a good location in the yard. Make sure that old firewood isn’t rotten and move it away from your home.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Winter is the time most house fires happen. It’s the time of year when we’re blasting the furnace and building fires. Dried pine trees with hot light bulbs. (Here’s looking at you, real Christmas trees!)

We are also much more likely to have our home closed tight, so carbon monoxide is a much bigger hazard. Check all of your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and that they have good batteries. If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, consider getting some. The HVAC inspection will also ensure your furnace and water heater are properly vented, which is the most likely source of carbon monoxide.

Prep the Plumbing

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and arrange to have any in-ground sprinkler pipes blown out. Roll up the garden hoses and store them inside. Identify any “problem” pipes that are prone to freezing in the house and consider using heat tape to keep them warm during extremely cold weather. If the worst happens, ensure everyone in the family knows how to turn off the water at the source. This will minimize leaking when and if a pipe burst.

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Make sure you take the proper precautions to make sure everyone and everything survives the elements. Homes need people. Pets need people. People need people.

Categories Holiday, Tips

HOW TO GIVE BACK THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

HOW-TO-GIVE-BACK-THIS-HOLIDAY-SEASON

 

The holidays are a great time of year to connect with family, mingle with friends, enjoy delicious food, and give thanks to all we have. However, it is also a great time to give back and consider how we can help someone a little less fortunate than us. The good news…you don’t have to look that far! Here are a couple of ways you can give back this season right here in Baytown.

Help the Homeless

Not everyone is as fortunate to have a warm home to cuddle up in during the winter nights. Therefore, as the temperature continues to drop, it is an optimal time to donate to Bay Area Homeless Services Inc. (BAHS). BAHS is a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless population and those at risk of homelessness; their goal is to help their clients “to attain self-sufficiency, acquire permanent housing, and return to independent living as contributing members of society, providing an array of supportive services.”

You can get involved by donating cash or becoming a volunteer. They are looking for volunteers for the following roles: administrative assistant, donations assistants, maintenance/landscape experts, social media assistants, to name a few. If you want to get a group involved you can even collect a bag of their current needs, which includes: new or gently used twin and full sheet sets, toiletries, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, washing machine detergent, boxes of copier paper, paper goods, new or gently used towels, children’s books, disposable diapers and canned goods.

Foster an Animal

Open your heart and home to an animal in search of a family by becoming a foster for the Baytown Humane Society. The Baytown Humane Society is a “non-profit organization composed of concerned Baytown citizens working separately from–but in cooperation with–the Baytown Area Shelters and Individuals in the area to relieve the suffering of animals and to improve their chances for adoption into loving homes.”

If you don’t have a home to offer you can still offer your heart by becoming a volunteer. This will give you an opportunity to give back while also enhancing your personal skills. Some volunteer duties include helping with administering first-aid and medication to the animals, counseling potential adopters, walking dogs at the shelter, assisting with paperwork, sponsoring or participating in a fundraising event, and more! If you have the time, contact the shelter and get started to give an animal a home for the holidays.

Promote Education

Are you interested in ensuring the future of our children and helping them become the best they can be? If so, then maybe it is time to reach out and become a part of Communities in Schools (CIS) of Baytown. CIS of Baytown is “an affiliate of the nation’s largest and most effective nonprofit organization dedicated to drop-out prevention and student success.” They currently serve over 1,700 students on eleven campuses within the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District. CIS provides its students with basic needs, academic assistance, career and college readiness, life skills training, support and guidance, and family support.

If you want to get involved you can donate today or contact CIS to become a volunteer!

Don’t See an Organization that Interests You?

If you are not drawn into the three organizations identified above, don’t let this be a reason not to give back this holiday season. There are thousands of nonprofit organizations that are always looking for assistance. Whether you want to volunteer or just donate to the cause of your choice, all you need to do is a quick google search and we are sure you can find the right charity for you! Remember, it’s a time of giving, so give what you can whether it’s cash, companionship, or something else!

Who we are:

Gulf State Homebuyers is a local, full service real estate investment company founded in 2006 by Dwayne White, a Baytown native who not only knows the area of Greater Houston, but the people as well.  We here at Gulf State Homebuyers have been given the 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019  Distinction Award by the Better Business Bureau for not only our service excellence, but our impact in the real estate business.

Our company specializes in purchasing residential and commercial properties in Houston and its surrounding areas. We not only supply clients with the ability to sell their home for cash; in many situations, we allow our clients to rent or owner finance from us as well. Our staff has purchased hundreds of homes in all cash throughout the years, in addition to offering sellers fair market prices for their homes with closings in a matter of days.