Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cutting Back on Christmas

My husband and I are unemployed. We're part of the long-term unemployed who are on federal extension of our benefits and now face losing them (my husband as soon as two weeks from now) because Congress is not voting to continue the extensions (and who knows when or if they will).

It's not that we want to be unemployed nor was it our fault that we lost our jobs. The economy is tough and people aren't hiring at the rate they usually are. I'm overqualified for too many jobs (so people tell me) and underqualified for ones I really want (apparently, since I don't get interviews for those).

As you can imagine, I've done no Christmas shopping this year. So far I haven't put the decorations up either. It's hard to feel Christmas-y when people all around you, including yourself, are struggling financially. I know three families with kids who are having trouble affording gifts for the kids. My parents have forbidden me to buy any gifts for the family and they've cut back on buying too because they want to be able to help us financially, if needed (something I've been avoiding all year but may have to fall back on to avoid losing our house).

It's a sad end of a difficult year. We're going to muddle through this month the best we can and keep looking for work but people don't tend to hire around the holidays so who knows how long that will take. I was looking for work even when I had my last job because I wasn't crazy about it and was hoping to find better. Instead I lost the job I hated and continue to look for work with no success. It's disheartening.

In discussions about the unemployment benefit extensions I see a bunch of employed people complaining about the lazy bums who should just go get a job. Really? Don't you think I would? How do you think I got the last job I had (which I hated)? I applied for it and accepted it because I needed the money. I was lucky to get it; it paid well and had benefits. I considered that enough, despite the work I was doing. True, I kept looking (secretly) but I'd do it again in a heartbeat to be bringing in that paycheck again.

We're not lazy. In fact, I still work all day (for free) and hardly rest at all. I'm as busy now as I was when I worked. I apply for jobs, I'm designing an online portfolio of my work, I do volunteer work, and I am working on some projects which I hope might make some money. I'm anything but lazy.

What I am, right now, is depressed. December is one of my favorite months of the year (because I love traditions, not because I'm religious) and this year the whole thing seems forced. We'll pretend things are normal but we're a month away from not being able to cover our bills, thanks to losing unemployment insurance benefits and so we have to cut back on everything (even more than I've been doing already)--and that means a Christmas without presents, feasts, entertaining, or events. Those all take money and money is something we simply don't have.

Santa--can you bring me a job? I've been a good girl.

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