Monday, November 24, 2008

Recession Christmas spirit.

This year we're finally instituting the name-draw method of gift exchange in my family--that is, all the grown-ups are picking a single name and just giving a gift to that person. And in the interest of keeping it really REALLY real, the gift is not supposed to be one extravagant item, but just something to watch or read or listen to. The kids, of course, get the toy treatment as usual. My mom proposed it, and then suggested that we might want to donate any extra money we would have spent on gifts to whatever worthy cause we favor. Everyone got right on board because what's not to like?

I seem to remember this kind of low-key Christmas exchange being proposed and not accepted when we were kids, or maybe there was grudging assent and then it never really happened. But we're all grown folks now and I am definitely ready to chill out on Christmas, though I love to give gifts and getting them is also pretty decent. Seeing as how I have a house full of various supplies, though, I can spend some time making some little doodads for my people and baking things and doing all of that cozy stuff I like to be doing anyway. I had better get busy, though, because damn. It's only a month from now. A week of distracted knitting in front of The Wire has only yielded a single pair of baby legwarmers, and then I stitched them up with the stripes not lining up, like a dumb asshole, and had to rip them apart, and then flang my darning needle somewhere into the couch crevasse, never to be retrieved. The cat, you'll be happy to know, has been doing very stereotypical cat things with the balls of yarn. For some reason I find this inordinately funny.


There's a terrific post over at Sweet Juniper about--well, a lot of things, really--but mostly about what the loss of the Detroit auto industry would mean for Detroit, and for the rest of America. I've got this blog on my google reader but don't always click through because the entries are truncated on the feed and I am stupidly annoyed by this. Every time I click through, however, I am glad that I did. The blog is more or less about the writers' family life, but Detroit is also a main character in the blog, and the writers manage to be both tender and realistic about the city, documenting it in words and pictures just as it is, without hand-wringing. Anyway, here's an excerpt from the post:
Some of the people saying let them fail about Detroit's automakers are very the same people who had no problem with the $700 billion bailout of the very "industries" responsible for the sudden evaporation of so many billions of dollars in equity and credit. I would like to show them the state of this city and ask them to think about how much worse it (and hundreds of other cities reliant on the auto industry) will get if any of these three employers were suddenly unable to pay their employees or suppliers. This isn't Manhattan. We're not talking about Goldman Sachs associates suddenly not being able to pay the mortgages on their $350,000 parking spaces in Tribeca for the Ferraris they bought with their 2006 bonuses. We are talking about the lifeblood of a region that has already suffered so deeply, and I can't believe how many people are speaking so flippantly about allowing this great American industry to die.

I'm no apologist for the Big Three or their ridiculous missteps and lapses of judgment. But I do care about the regular people who work for these companies and who played no role in those poor decisions. Where is the compassion?
This has started a commenting firestorm which I have not even begun to look at, and there is a follow-up post today, in case you're interested. Thought-provoking stuff.


  1. We instituted the gift exchange in my fam about 6 yrs ago and in the Jew's last year. I can't believe we didn't do it sooner. It makes the gifting more enjoyable when you are choosing thoughtfully for 2 people instead of shopping for about 15! Yay!

    Also, I love that Willa is scaring the wildlife in the city :)

  2. I'm a great admirer of the Sweet Junipers and their diligent reporting on the city they love. It's especially interesting to me now as I work with a N.O. nonprofit grappling with city planning after Katrina's population drain. There are many comparisons to the Rustbelt. It's fascinating, really, and a lot like getting an education in economics, civics and sociology.

    I'll check that link only after I finish this deadline!