We will not try to sugar coat this 2010 holiday season. A recent poll of Massachusetts residents reveals that a large majority do not believe that the recession is over, even though the recession technically ended, according to the economists, in the summer of 2009.
Many of us (if not most) are either unemployed or underemployed. Our homes and retirement accounts have lost so much value that they may not return to their pre-recession values for another decade. The rich (the top one percent of Americans) are getting richer, but those of us in the middle are just trying to hold steady.
As for those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, they have fallen even further behind, with the number of Americans below the poverty line at a level not seen in more than 50 years. Some 44 million Americans, one in seven, lived in a household in 2009 that had an income below the official poverty rate.
In contrast to all of this gloominess, 10 years ago this week in this space we wrote, “We Americans are blessed in this, the first holiday season of the new millennium and the eighth year of a record economic expansion. Though slowing its pace and hampered by a less than stellar stock market, our economy remains strong, unemployment is low, and we are at peace, with no external threats to our national security on the horizon, real or imagined, nor any discord within our national borders.”
Who among us had any inkling 10 years ago that it all would become undone to such an extent! And who would have thought that our government seems to be so dysfunctional that any hope for recovery appears nil.
But we have to deal with reality. Moreover, as bad as things are for many of us, they could be worse for most of us. For those of us who still have a job, our homes, and our families, we are much better off than so many of our neighbors for whom this will not be a season full of joy.
So as we celebrate Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday, let us both give thanks for what we have and promise to do something, no matter how small it may be, to help those who are in need this holiday season.
There will be many opportunities for giving in the next few weeks to make someone else’s life a little brighter. We can assure our readers with the means to do so that giving to others less fortunate than we will be the best holiday gift that we can give to ourselves.