Long distance family: not home for the holidays

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

By Dana Ginn Paredes

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays I look forward to most. It is the kick-off event to the days of holiday festivities to come – which for my family means through the Lunar New Year. It is a time where get together over way too much food and with just enough story and fun to take us into the next morning. This year will be different though: this year we will be Skyping.

As many others in the US, my family has had to make tough choices to stay afloat during this Great Recession, particularly my parents. My parents are members of the baby-boomer generation and were among the first to experience job insecurity or be laid off in this down turn. Whenever I spoke to them about how things were going, my mother would sigh or curse at whichever politico happened to be on TV and my father would tell us that they have been through recessions before and come out alright.

So far, to be “alright” has meant that last summer my parents had to leave their family and community of 24 years and relocate to New York because my mother was one of the lucky few to stay employed at Macy’s after they closed down their corporate office in San Francisco. My parents went along with this because they felt this was the best choice they had. It wasn’t and still isn’t easy for them to be 3,000 miles (instead of 30 minutes) away from their first grandchild. “And after so much waiting,” my mother would say.

Then this past October, my father rejoined the workforce at a new job in Wausau, Wisconsin. When I heard the news my stomach got all queasy and a bazillion questions began running through my mind. “My father does all the cooking. How is my mother going to eat? Who will they go to movies or take walks with? And what if something should happen to one of them? Who will be there to help?” I knew it wasn’t an easy choice for them. The last time my father lived physically separate from my mother was when he was drafted into the Vietnam War.

The Great Recession has taken a toll on many families. While more and more family members are living together because that is what they can afford; some families, like mine, are being pushed further and further apart. Compared to the situation of many others, I know we are lucky that we have these choices at all.

And so during this holiday, we will be Skyping our thanks to each other and looking forward to the next time we will all be together. As I reflect on my parent’s story I already know that I’ll be acknowledging their story of hope, resilience and courage to try something new.

Share your story of how the Great Recession has shaped your family. Wishing you all a holiday filled with love from near and far.

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