BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 16:18 GMT
Thanksgiving: Americans tighten their belts
Food handouts at Thanksgiving
Middle class people are also turning to food handouts this Thanksgiving
North Americans are worried that hard times lie ahead as the credit crunch hits their economy.

A recent article by the BBC's Adam Brookes featured people already suffering from the economic downturn in Detroit, Michigan.

It sparked a flood of e-mails to the BBC News website. We asked those who responded about their fears and how it would influence the way they celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here are some of their responses:

Read the main story here


Thanksgiving: the Wolfes at home
The middle class Wolfes need help from charities

We are the family that was included in Adam Brookes's story. If it was not for The Salvation Army, we would not be having a Thanksgiving or a Christmas. And even at that, it will be a very meagre one.

Adam Brookes mentioned that our income was $90,000 a year but we are now on the breadline. While $90,000 a year does seem like a lot, you must keep in mind that my husband did not always make that much per year. His income has fluctuated greatly since we have been living in Michigan the last eight years.

We had savings in the past, and did this time as well. However, you must keep in mind that our average bills per month ran (and still do) at about $3,600 per month with housing, groceries, car payments, utilities, and child support. Not to mention taxes. When your income goes from roughly $4,000 per month (net) down to $1,200 (on unemployment) you have to fill in the gaps somehow, which is what our savings did.

We are both terrified, especially because we have a 10-year-old son who depends on us to take care of him. Will we become homeless?

We are so used to being able to afford nice things during the holidays, this one will be a very depressing time for us. But we have each other, and that is important to us.

My husband has taken up a job for minimum wage (down from $45 an hour) just to have a few extra dollars coming in, but that won't cover even basic necessities.

We are both terrified, especially because we have a ten year old son who depends on us to take care of him. How can we do that without a decent job ? Will we become homeless?

We got a turkey baster from the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving and for Christmas they asked me what presents I'd like. I put down a winter coat, hats and books for my son. It wasn't so important for me to get new things. I put down undershirts for myself.


Michael and Kalen
Michael and girlfriend Kalen could barely afford the airfare to join family for Thanksgiving

Not only am I dealing with the economic problems that the rest of the nation faces, (pricey vehicle fuel to name one), but I also made the uninformed choice to become an actor! Not a famous one mind you, nor revered in my small community - not even employed now that I think about it.

My girlfriend and I were barely able to afford the cost of the plane ticket to join her family for Thanksgiving and then my family in the east San Francisco bay for Christmas.

Since moving to Chicago, I've auditioned as much as I can, applied for jobs at numerous restaurants, and registered with two temp agencies - and still, I filed for unemployment just yesterday.

With enough money in savings for my half of December's rent - $350 - not only will I be shopping less this holiday season...I won't be shopping at all.


Unionist Eddie Rothstein in USA
Eddie Rothstein's friends are helping him survive

I am a former union organiser and fought for many workers jobs. I worked in the oil and chemical, textile and laundry sector and for government and hospital workers. Now I can't find work.

My friends are helping me survive. But most in the business are not helpful. They are worried about their own jobs as the labour movement in the US would rather hire 20-something year-olds. The economy is getting worse here in the US.

I will be spending nothing over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have very little. This is the worst time I have faced. Money is much tighter than last year.


The economy is doing Ok but housing is slowing down. I will spend about the same as last year. I've been investing in the stock market and moved money last year into precious metals and energy.

They're both doing very well. I guess I'll spend about $300-400 dollars on presents and as a family that will probably be about $1,000. I've bought some of the gifts already - jewellery, perfumes for my wife and daughter. I guess I'll get clothes and watches from them.

I own my own home and have all my bills and housing paid off. But I'm in the middle class and I see it every day - people getting priced out of housing. We live on the coastline and the value of homes is $500,000 to $600,000 in a very average area.


Shop? Are you kidding? It will be all I can do to pay my monthly expenses! Baa humbug! There will be no Christmas this year. But there will be prayer and a revision to cut every unnecessary expense from my budget.


Lyda and Castor Puleston. Pic: Jeremy Stratton
Lyda spends winter in Mexico with son Castor: "it's cheaper"

I am the widow of a disabled veteran and a single mother. I get social security benefits but my main income used to be from rental units in Minneapolis. Recently, taxes were cut for the most wealthy. To make up for the shortfall, the city government reassessed the value of all the properties in Minneapolis.

In the last few years property taxes on a small building of mine have gone from $1,500 a year to $7,000 a year, wiping out any profit, my income. An elderly neighbour had to sell her house because she couldn't afford the tax increases, of about $200 to $300 a year.

Now many homes are assessed at values higher than what they are worth. For people on edge of financial ruin it could be the little push needed for them to go over the edge.

I try not to let my son decide what he's getting as a present. This year it'll be much less than last year. He'll be getting a Play Mobil tree house and a cash register, to help him learn how to count.

I spend some of the winter months in Mexico. That seems extravagant, but it's cheaper than living here.


We bought our Christmas travel tickets months ago at steep internet discounts. Each adult family member is only buying one general gift, no more than $50, and we will all open and swap till we find something we like.

Only the small children will get more items - but even then, not much because we're boycotting plastic toys and anything made in China.

For Thanksgiving we're staying in town and joining a large group of friends for a pot luck "orphan's Thanksgiving" - and will make one item from food we already have in our pantry, like sweet potatoes with orange juice and spices.


the Sharma family
The Sharmas say they don't believe in the throw-away culture

Economical ups and downs have always been part and parcel of our globalised world. There is nothing special about the current meltdown. I am a student but also work full-time in a pharmacy. Personally, I do not believe in this throw-away mentality and I stay away from "shop-till-you-drop".

I have never bought items such as gifts for Christmas and Thanksgiving because this encourages a culture of shopping and more shopping. Christmas is about caring and sharing, not buying things.

I don't fear economical downturns because I spend within my limits and keep a tight lid on my expenses. I would rather give to charities than fill my own pockets. The rule of simple living and high thinking is the surest way of getting out of an economic meltdown.

Are you marking Thanksgiving? Send us pictures of your celebrations.

Send your pictures to or text them to +44 7725 100 100.

If you have a large file you can upload here.Read the terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Detroit's woes augur ill for US
16 Nov 07 |  Business
Happy UK shoppers hit US stores
21 Nov 07 |  Business

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific