Tis the Season

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?

Sheila Velazquez lives and writes in western Massachusetts. She can be reached at: sheilavelazquez@comcast.net.. Read other articles by Sheila, or visit Sheila's website.

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 4th, 2010 at 8:01am #

    it’s ok. santa is coming and wld visit every jail, shanty, tent, battle, refugee camp, etcetc. he’l have no time for malls, mansions, house of horrors and terrors.
    pope wld finally shut up along with all rabbis, mullahs, priests, jesus and the other ‘saviors’.
    what more cld one want??
    btw, how have indigenes or first comers to americas ever survived w.o. waging wars; having no laws, govt, police, experts, priests, and such people? tnx

  2. Don Hawkins said on December 5th, 2010 at 4:45pm #

    Sheila I know how you feel and Is that asking so much? The wife an I make it month to month but it’s fun we just don’t give a damn well being poor is sort of an art. Now my kids still haven’t learned the art and we help them when we can. Now tomorrow it’s only a day away let’s see we will hear a compromise is being worked out as they have Obama between a rock an a hard place so extend the tax cut’s for the wealthy so they can have a good Christmas and maybe workman’s comp heck we will all have a good Christmas. I have decided not to send any cards this year but write a few comment’s. The sun streaming through the stained glass, but standing in the glow of its beauty made me long for something far in my past I understand and me sometimes when watching the scfi channel maybe a disaster movie and at the end when we all made it and everyone yell’s at the end I yell with them.

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 5th, 2010 at 5:50pm #

    “I think it’s time for the games to stop”. Mitch McConnell on the Bush era tax cut’s the amazing part it still work’s.

  4. Don Hawkins said on December 6th, 2010 at 3:19am #

    I see that Julian Assange and wikileaks is now a high tech terrorist. Well here’s a leak hiding in plain site.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican whip, told different interviewers that they expect Congress to vote for the tax cuts, which have been in effect for almost a decade, to continue unaltered for at least several years in exchange for an agreement to extend an emergency unemployment program that expired last week for millions of people. Washington post

    Unaltered for at least several years and do the math. These tax cut’s for the wealthy how are they paid for is it from the kindness of strangers sort of more on the lines of from thin air that if the truth be known not so thin. The Senate voted on 1 million then after a million a bit higher tax. Sorry no cigar and why you ask? Is it the money or to keep America strong the right thing to do? No it set’s a very bad example for the little people I mean what else will they ask for got to nip this in the bud and fast. Then the Senator from the great State of Kentucky one of the greatest minds in human history say’s, “I think it’s time for the games to stop”. Now color me nut’s but I don’t think they stopped. In 2012 will the game stop probably not just play it faster and in two more years will the little fact that climate change and or disruption will it become more clear yes it sure will then will the games stop, no change it a little and much more illusion as we all go down the drain in plain site sort of. If they can’t change the tax’s on the top 3% what chance is there of taxing carbon and the big one return that tax back to the little people it’s just to much to ask. I’ll bet we hear all of the above that means oil, gas, coal and we will need to do this at least fifty years to keep going and going and the big leak is the little fact to do this will destroy most life on a planet called Earth. “I think it’s time for the games to stop”, thank you Senator some interesting words indeed. And so it goes and what did Sheila write at the end of her post?

    If only the poor and about-to-be-poor could be guaranteed merely that. Is that asking so much?

    Well here’s another leak the about-to-be-poor is going to be a very big number and the people we now see who appear not to be poor just might need to start practicing less of a shock. Here’s one way to start dress down and go sit in a coffee shop heck bring a good book like how to win friends and influence people and be just one of the little people that they just might find are not so little.

  5. Deadbeat said on December 6th, 2010 at 3:24am #

    Don Hawkins writes …

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican whip, told different interviewers that they expect Congress to vote for the tax cuts, which have been in effect for almost a decade, to continue unaltered for at least several years in exchange for an agreement to extend an emergency unemployment program that expired last week for millions of people. Washington post

    The most devastating tax cuts of the 1980′s are pretty much still in effect. The Kemp-Roth tax cuts and the 1986 tax “deform” acts lowered the top rate from 70% to 28% and reduced the tax brackets down from 14 to 3. Both of these acts needs to be repealed but the Liberal/Left is not calling for a restoration of the pre-1981 Kemp/Roth tax rates. I wonder why? Maybe because some members of the ‘Left” like Amy Goodman now rakes in $1,000,000.00/year.

  6. Don Hawkins said on December 6th, 2010 at 3:37am #

    DB awake early I see yep seems to happen to all that have embraced the system thinking inside the box almost like a prison for the mind. Better to start now to try and break free of that prison and just maybe find something they lost or maybe never knew about a soul.

  7. Don Hawkins said on December 6th, 2010 at 3:54am #

    Here’s a good one DB

    Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
    Albert Einstein

    Working in a soup kitchen as sort of a show or giving money to charity another show doesn’t count as then it’s put’s and call’s a hedge fund or two maybe the s&p futures buy gold everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted as ok how much does a soul cost I’ll pay whatever you want,Is that asking so much? No but there is no amount of money on Earth that……………………………how about a nice cup of coffee and heck any thought’s on energy or a new way of thinking.

  8. Sheila Velazquez said on December 6th, 2010 at 6:11am #

    Continuing the tax cuts will be continuing the class warfare that will end in dire poverty and pain for the targeted underclass, including the elderly whose Social Security and Medicare will eventually be slashed. What most people don’t realize is that retirees already contribute about a third to the cost of medical insurance in the form of Parts B and D and the supplemental policies that cover what Medicare does not. These costs can equal half of their Social Security income. How much more difficult could they make it for say a 70 or 80-yr.-old who is netting $5,000 a yr. and who definitely is not going to be picking up part-time work anytime soon.

  9. bozh said on December 6th, 2010 at 7:39am #

    in the eyes, and not only in the eyes, but also hearts-minds of supremacists, america and its people belong to supremacists.
    thus, whatever a lower class person has, belongs to americans who own america.
    and what a houseperson gets, according the unspoken dogma, is given himher by those who own and run america.

    however, pie in u.s is still large enough– maybe too large, judging by the amount americans waste– for most people to complain.
    at this time, 99% like it this way! txn