Few things ruin the holidays like losing a job. Yet that's what's happening to thousands of Americans just as they were planning to treat friends and families to gifts and holiday gatherings. The turnaround is excruciating as families struggle to save traditions on extremely tight budgets, reports the New York Times. Lavish feasts are being transformed into potluck get-togethers, and parents are turning to churches and synagogues for gifts for their children.
Experts say kids can survive pared-down holidays even though less-than-extravagant gifts "somehow became a sign of bad parenting," said one. Children can achieve "a sense of plentifulness in a different way than gifts," said a therapist, who suggested parents pass on a gift from their parents. But tight times are taking a big toll. "They're good kids," said one grandmother who can't afford anything for her grandchildren. "It hurts."
(Read more financial crisis stories.)