For millions of unemployed, Christmas is a season to end, not celebrate

Nicole Craig, two unemployed mother from Pittsburgh, would have no Christmas present for her two children and the ham they bought with the food stamp would be far less than their normal holiday dinner. On the back of her rent and utility bills, she is struggling to spend formula and diapers. But there’s one thing she can’t give up: a small Christmas tree and trimmings to go with it.

Ms. Craig spent the final $ 7 in her bank account on Tinsel, a symbol of light in the dark of 2020. “It’s my baby’s first Christmas,” she said. “I wanted him to see the Christmas tree.”

Although 42-year-old Ms. Craig lost her job as a counselor for the youngster without risk, she cannot help blaming herself when she sees Christmas decorations and other reminders of the holiday. “I don’t even want to think about it because I feel so bad for my children,” she said. “It makes me realize this kind of failure.”

For Ms. Craig, and the millions of other Americans who lost their jobs due to the coronovirus epidemic, it is a holiday season that is more for the season than it is for the tastes. With an unemployment benefit, an unforgiving job market offering few berths, this Christmas will be remembered by many for painful sacrifices, not the exchange of gifts and the joy of festive meals with family.

Vaccination and approval of A. New federal relief package Offer hope, but they arrive too late to celebrate this year’s celebration – especially with the possibility that it may bring the darkest days of the winter epidemic.

“I’m really afraid of what’s going to happen,” Ms. Craig said.

Prolonged delays in achieving congressional agreement on an aid bill also mean fewer gifts under the tree as the epidemic has torn families apart and led to holiday cheer for video-chat ceremonies this year.

And for many families, congressional approved $ 600-a-person incentive payments have already been placed toward rent and other requirements.

Meanwhile, unemployed Americans such as Monica Scott of Lackland, Fla., Look to the past for comfort.

“The only thing I can do this year is talk about the memories” Ms. Scott said, who was five months pregnant and had to leave her job at Amazon’s warehouse due to the risk of miscarriage from heavy packages . “Last year was awesome – so many toys, clothes and shoes.”

Ms. Scott, 34, wants to have a Christmas dinner with her three boys – ages 14, 10 and 8 – but food will be limited as she relies on food stamps and lacks a kitchen. Ms. Scott is living in a motel after being evicted from her apartment last spring, but hopes to find a permanent home soon.

“It’s just a room with a bathroom,” she said. “The rent is due, and I don’t know where it will come from. I can move in with my sister, but she has children, and it’s just not comfortable.”

Ms. Scott and others will turn to the food banks to pull Christmas dinner together.

“We usually rib rib, Martelli’s Apple Cider, a couple of desserts,” Jessica Hudson, a full-time student and mom of two from Millbrae, California. We said that we will not be able to do any this year. “

Ms. Hudson and her partner, who are unemployed, are doing their best to make Christmas as a cheer: they bought stockings and candy from the dollar store, and they decorate the last few weeks in the most beautiful way Spent on local roads. Homes, so that they can take their children on a drive to see them on Christmas day.

Ms. Hudson’s 13-year-old, Marley, did just one thing on her Christmas list this year: a family camping trip to Yosemite National Park. Ms. Hudson struggled to find a way to say no. “She is basically doing an IOU for Christmas, that we will take her when the epidemic is over and we can travel,” Ms. Hudson said. “But the truth is that we can’t do anything like that right now.”

Jamie Snyder, Joe Grayling, Mich. , Who bought her children big-ticket items last Christmas: a new TV for her daughter, an Xbox for her son. But the money has been strapped ever since her husband was laid off in June and accepted the job with a $ 20,000 salary cut.

To buy simple gifts for children – a video game, a new sweater – Ms. Snyder used the money she had spent on the electricity bill. When that payment is due on 10 January, he fears that his power will be shut down.

“We wish they had something to move forward,” Ms. Snyder said. For Christmas dinner, she will depend on a program at her daughter’s school that provides food to needy families.

There is a touch of Dickens in this year’s celebrations, leaving the relevant story not “a Christmas carol” but “a narrative of two cities”. According to the Labor Department, by the time the stock market rises to record highs and waiting lists for luxury items such as the peloton exercise bicycle, nearly 20 million workers were collecting unemployment benefits under state or federal programs.

Some of the more fortunate are trying to give back. Stirling Beau Skater, an importer of machinery and equipment, received a 20 percent wage increase in October and increased his charitable giving to a local church as a result.

“I’m very grateful for the blessing of doing the job, and I try not to take it,” he said. Mr. Shector, 26, lives in Chicago, but was able to return home to Fort Worth for Christmas.

In a typical year, about 30 members of his extended family gather on Christmas Eve. This year, only his immediate family will spend time together indoors, to follow epidemiological guidelines.

Still, his mom is planning a Christmas feast – with turkey, mashed potatoes and rolls. Mr. Shektor and his friends are planning to rent a local movie theater for a private screening of a Christmas film this week.

Workers like Mr. Shekhar are more resilient in the epidemic recession than people in the service sector with low skills and low pay. Although unemployment rate Fell to 6.7 percent in November From 14.7 percent in April, hiring has slowed. At the same time, New claims for state unemployment benefits There are about one million moving a week.

Many of the unemployed are from industries such as hospitality, travel, food and entertainment, which were still suffering from the initial strike of the epidemic in the spring, when a new round of lockdowns and sanctions came in this fall.

In 10.2 million, there is employment in the food services sector. More than two million down From February, and dropped again in November after bouncing back in spring and summer.

Some experts expect these sectors of the economy to experience a meaningful recovery until mass vaccinations occur and consumers feel comfortable eating indoors again – or, in places like New York and California, It is also permitted to do so. Likewise, stadiums, airports and amusement parks will be most inactive until the temperature rises and the virus is beaten back by inoculation-led swarm immunity at some point next year.

One of the waiters is 44-year-old Trezza Watson, who worked as a server and host for four-and-a-half years at the Fisher Suite’s premium suite, home of the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association. By the time it closed in March, he made $ 35,000 to $ 40,000 a year to buy a $ 199 car seat for his new grandson, Khalil.

This year, she is getting him a broom and dustpan set from a toy laptop, stuffed animals, and children’s matchmakers Melissa and Doug. But most of all, she is focused on the vacation experiences that come with spending time with Khalil, and feeling grateful that she can pay the rent and keep the lights on.

“I’m going to give the gift of love and hope and prayer,” she said. “And hopefully to live to pass it too.”

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