Who says we have no heart. Sure we do, and the December 1 press release from Freddie Mac that gives foreclosed families an extra two weeks to pack their shit and get out proves it.
McLean, VA – Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) today announced it has ordered all evictions involving foreclosed occupied single family and 2-4 unit properties that had Freddie Mac mortgages to be suspended from December 20, 2010 to January 3, 2011.
‘If the property is occupied, our foreclosure attorneys will suspend the eviction to provide a greater measure of certainty to families during the holidays,’ said Anthony Renzi, Executive Vice President of Single Family Portfolio Management at Freddie Mac.
Because of the generosity of Freddie Mac, after these families have collected dozens of empty cardboard boxes from the local liquor store and stuffed their belongings into them, they will still have a little time to enjoy the holiday, even though the utilities may be disconnected, the cupboard bare, and, oh yeah, all the pots and pans sealed up with packing tape.
Maybe the kids can draw pictures on the Seagram’s box of a tree and the feast and presents they might have had if Mom hadn’t been laid off from Waffle House and Dad lost his job as a guard at the mall.
I was once fired on Christmas Eve. I worked for a big-city wholesaler that employed both highly paid union workers (men) in the warehouse and customer service people (women) in the office. The latter received slightly more than minimum. The president, who was off skiing for the holiday, left orders that everyone was to show up the weekend before Christmas to help with the inventory.
The warehouse guys were ecstatic. They would get double time and a half for Sunday. And they didn’t have to shop or cook. The customer service reps, who were stunned to lose the days they had planned to use for holiday preparations for their families, asked what they would get. “Nothing,” was the reply. “You are salaried.”
As assistant to the boss, I was exempt from counting stock, but as a single mom myself, I was furious, and I spoke out on behalf of the women, causing quite a ruckus. They did, indeed, come in–as a guarantee that they would continue to be employed–but on Christmas Eve I was called into HR, handed two weeks pay, and told that my talents were no longer needed. I went home and said to my sons, “Guess What?”
Times were better then, and I soon had a job where I got to work with actual human beings, but times have changed.
I live a fairly secluded life now, in a village that not only resembles the Bedford Falls of It’s a Wonderful Life, but is itself a “Falls,” and when I traveled to DC for the Thanksgiving holiday, I observed instances of a lack of good will that I had not experienced for some time.
At the airport a woman with whom I would have avoided sharing a conversation had I known what was coming, said something to the effect that to guarantee our safety, Muslims should have their own airline. My response was, “You are probably correct. I’m sure they would prefer to not travel with you.” End of conversation.
While I was in DC, I learned that the Giant grocery store chain had changed its policy regarding Salvation Army bell-ringers. Giant decreed that they can solicit contributions for only 12 days over November and December combined. On these days they are limited to four hours. The Salvation Army and other charities had previously been allowed 10 hours a day, six days a week. A spokesperson for Giant said the rule had been applied “in order to best serve our customers, and not hinder their shopping experience.”
In 2009, the DC Salvation Army raised half of their donations at Giant stores. While I disapprove of the Salvation Army’s anti-LGBT policies, they do provide help to many (Just don’t mention that you are gay.) Giant also supports food banks and other charities, but I believe they made a mistake in cutting the hours of the Salvation Army, whose kettle is one of the few constancies in our contemporary holiday nouveaux and whose help is sorely needed in the downward-spiraling economy.
On a personal note, I found myself very close to finding religion again while visiting the National Cathedral. Maybe it was the marble statues to which stone workers have dedicated their entire adult lives, or the sun streaming through the stained glass, but standing in the glow of its beauty made me long for something far in my past, when my working-class parents created our Christmases from little and then gave thanks for what they had. If only the poor and about-to-be-poor could be guaranteed merely that. Is that asking so much?