Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past

--original lyrics not sung in the film

A year ago (specifically June 1 of 2007), my husband and I bought a house. Luckily for us, we were able to put a down payment courtesy of my parents, who had made a lot of money in the stock market and mutual funds. My husband and I, of course, are just overworked, underpaid clerks at a company that edits patents for the government. But no sub-prime mortgages for us--no sir. I'm not Nostradamus, but I know a bad deal when I see one.

A year ago (specifically October 12 of 2007), the Dow hit its all-time high of 14,164.53, and as my stepfather said, my parents had "the world by the ass".

Well, these things never last, do they?

"I never get what I really want."
"What's that?"
"Real estate."

We bought a home because the apartment was cramped; because I'd been robbed and assaulted; because I wanted a garden; because we needed stability; because we wanted to finally live in a place and not feel like we had to move again in a year. We bought a house to stay there, not to make money on it.

We feel lucky, because we still have our job--there haven't been any rumors of layoffs yet--we can make our mortgage payments, we're healthy.

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

Current unemployment stands at 6.7%, and is expected to rise.

I have friends who've been laid off. My sister works for Disney World, and even they have closed attractions, and she worries about her job. And me? I'm trying to find a job teaching. I finished school a month ago, but some districts have hiring freezes, and there are a glut of English teachers, unlike science and math. So I wait. I can't just quit my job and take a long-term substitute position, because once that's over, come summer, I'm unemployed. And we don't make enough for one of us to be unemployed for any length of time.

If I try to pursue what I've been studying for, I could seriously jeopardize our living in this house, because I can't guarantee that I'd find even a retail job.

Banks collapsing, credit frozen, the car industry on the brink, and that's just economics. Never mind all the fun stuff like India vs. Pakistan or the Russian-Georgian war this summer.

No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us will be near to us no more

One of my mom's favorite movies is Meet Me in St. Louis, a silly musical comedy starring Judy Garland, made in 1944 and set around 1903. And, to bring you up quick, the end has the family facing a move to New York a couple of days after Christmas. They don't want to move, to leave behind friends and family, but the father's job depends on it. And Judy sings to her celluloid sister this song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow

Cheery, huh? I was driving in my car, and heard the Frank Sinatra version, which changes the lyrics significantly--even though the film changed a lot of the more dire lyrics, like

"Faithful friends who were dear to us will be near to us no more"


"Faithful friends who were dear to us will be near to us once more"

But, being the depressive personality that I am, I like the original lyrics. They're grim. They're afraid for the future. And they fit for this year.

We can't really afford much in the way of presents this year; we have debt we're trying to pay off, especially student loans. I don't know what to get my husband, other than a couple of paperbacks and a CD I know he wants. Two years ago, I bought him a banjo. But then, we weren't in as much debt. But hey--if deflation has set in, as it looks like it may have, then maybe I can get him something good.

Or maybe I'll just wait until the price falls and buy it for his birthday in March. I'm sure the price will be lower then.

I don't know what 2009 holds; I don't know when I'll find a job teaching, when people will start finding jobs instead of losing them, when the markets will shake out. I don't know if the other side of this tunnel has a world with more people working service jobs for big corporations like Walmart, the middle class collapsing under debt, unable to send their kids to college, and the majority of us falling into wage-slave status, unable to pay for health care, houses foreclosed on, my parents' money dwindling with the stock market...

Or the ship rights itself somehow, and we all have meaningful employment with health care and retirement benefits, affordable housing, credit freed, kids going off to college instead of retail or the military-of-last-resort, and the ice caps stop melting.

A girl can dream, right?

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

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