Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Traditions

This is the season where traditions are either born, broken, or kept. Even though Christmas is just one day, its a holiday that encompasses most of the month of December.

The Christmas season generally starts with the Thanksgiving holiday and ends Christmas night. Mall workers spend probably most of the month of November getting ready for Santa to arrive. By the time Thanksgiving comes the mall has been transformed to reflect the winter season. Part of the mall will become the North Pole, where parents can bring their children to have their photo made with Santa.

Before Thanksgiving local stores will become decorated icons reflecting the coming holiday. Christmas will take over our daily lives. Home owners will decorate their homes in the spirit of the season. Some may go overboard with decorations while others are simplistic or even conservative.

Radio stations will turn over their programming to reflect the Christmas season. Only one local Michigan station will run 24hrs a Christmas music 7 days a week starting around Thanksgiving and ending the day after Christmas.

Christmas parades seems to be happening in every city in the state. It seems like every weekend leading up to the big day, there is always something to do somewhere in the state. Bazaars pop up everywhere during the Christmas holiday. Cookie walks spring up here and there, its a chance to get various cookies for one low price.

Christmas tree lots spring up on every corner. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe's will get a shipment of Christmas trees to sell at their stores. Smaller nursery's will have tree for sale. The closer you get to Christmas Eve the cheaper you can get your Christmas tree.

Families will bake cookies and other holiday goodies. I compile a list of cookies that I have to make before Christmas. I'll even bake a couple loaves of Italian Panettone bread to give as a gift or to eat on Christmas morning.

Some people will pick a date to go get a tree. My family will get a tree on Christmas Eve and decorate it that night.

Christmas day we usually have a turkey but last couple of years I think we've gotten Chinese food since that's the only restaurant open late on Christmas day.

All in all traditions are not a bad thing but in order for them to become part of your annual repertoire you must do them every year.

Between the cracks of hunger

In Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, one in five children live in poverty. In the tri-county area 500,000 people including nearly 200,000 children, live in poverty.
Four million households in Michigan live at risk of hunger.

Michigan lost one million jobs over the past decade. A large share of the jobs lost once resided here in Southeast Michigan. Those lost jobs were high- and middle-wage lower-education jobs in lower-education industries. It is unlikely these jobs will ever return.

According to Feeding America’s National Hunger study, the number of individual emergency food recipients who receive food each week in Southeast Michigan grew by over 78%.

I live in the city of Detroit where the unemployment reached 12.8% for the month of October 2010. Most of the people living in my neighborhood are on some sort of public assistance. On my street there are probably only handful of people that actually work outside the home.

Not only is public assistance running rampant in this city but so are the number of foreclosed, burned out, and empty houses. It seems like everyday another people is moving out of their house.

People are continually moving out of their homes but with cold weather creeping up on us there will be more people heating their homes with kerosene or going so far as to make an illegal gas hook-up.

My parents house sits between a burned out house and a recently vacated house that no longer has heat or electricity.

Sure its cheap to live in Detroit and there really isn't any other city in this state that can beat the cost but with so many empty houses its hard to sell your home.

I found that if you earn money legally and if you earn more than the median income for your area you will inevitably fall between the cracks of public assistance.

This is the area where me and my family find ourselves. My parents are both senior citizens who live on social security and Medicare but according to an individual at the local social security office they make to much to get SSI which is available to folks their age.

We've even tried several times to get the coveted bridge card which is the current food stamp program. Again we make too much money to get any help.

So now instead of buying food to stay alive we use our money to pay bills so that we can have a house to live in.

My parents get food once a month from Focus Hope. They use to get more canned meat which was great for making enchiladas and soup but now that there are more people getting food than before they get less and less each time.

Not only are people getting free food from food pantry's but they are also getting food stamps or a bridge card loaded with enough money to buy real food for a month.

What are people who fall between the cracks of government help?

Recently unemployment benefits have been extended for another year for those lucky individuals who have been receiving benefits this past year. Why was it so important to keep extending those benefits when others go without just so people who have been getting paid to stay at home continue this pattern while those of us who barely get by go to work.

I know that unemployment nationally is nearing 10%. Both Michigan and California's unemployment was a whopping 12% in October 2010.

On November 2, 2010 not only did the people of United States revolt against the Democratic Party by electing enough Republicans to take control of the US House of Representatives but residents of Michigan elected a governor who isn't a career politician.

On Tuesday November 2nd Rick Snyder was elected he 48th Governor of Michigan. He is the only other Republican elected to the office of governor since John Engler held that post nine years ago.

The current governor has done nothing to help this state. Instead of helping small business her lack of faith in the small business has caused many business to close it's doors after being open less than a year. The small business tax has plagued the small businesses for many years.

I just hope that Mr. Snyder will help get Michigan on a path to success.

Maybe just maybe he will bring about change for the better.

Maybe people that fall between the cracks will be able to get the help they need.

One day maybe we will put an end to hunger.

One can always hope these things will happen but if we do nothing to make a change nothing will ever happen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crafting for Profit or Fun

I first started knitting scarfs back when I was a teenager. They were easy to make and only required straight needles. Two years ago I made my first pair of socks which I do wear. I had never made anything using the double pointed needles until the day I bought two balls of sock yarn. My mom knits too as well as my grandma but I don't credit them for teaching me how to knit. I consider myself a self taught knitter. My mom is subscribed to various knitting magazines which have a help section in the back. I taught myself how to cast on stitches using one of her magazines. I even taught myself how to Kitchener stitch by watching a how-to video that can be found on you tube. The only thing I'm not able to do is pick up stitches when completing the heel of a sock. Earlier this month I was making a beret and I was getting mixed up so I just unraveled it and started all over. I finally finished it for the second time. I've also made two hats that remind me of a pillbox hat. I've made one pair of child mittens and I'm currently working on making a pair of adult mittens to go with one of the hats I made. Besides all the hats and mittens I've made I've also made some dust covers for the Swiffer. Besides knitting I also make earrings and bracelets. I've posted two pairs of earrings on a website called in hopes of selling one pair to make some extra money. Handmade crafts have finally found a place online. I'm sure there are some people who have the drive to create a website to sell their handmade good but now there is a website where people can post their items to sell without creating an entire web page for their items. is the website where you can find all sorts of handmade items, vintage items, as well as materials for crafting. I know that I love making stuff to give as presents for people but now I need to craft for profit because money is tight so this will be the only way to make extra money.