(Editor's note: Unlike past recessions, the current downturn has taken a significant toll on sectors of the economy virtually unscathed by earlier economic crises. This is the sixth in a series on one family's struggle.)
SKOKIE, Ill., May 25 (UPI) -- Dire circumstances notwithstanding, we have joy: Our elder daughter will marry this summer.
I continue desperately applying for jobs while grabbing moments for wedding preparations. I'll suspend the teaching job search June 15 when hiring will stop until August.
Ordinarily, schools frantically seek replacements for teachers giving notice right before school begins, but this year the supply so far exceeds the demand they will have no trouble hiring even at the last minute. I'll devote a couple of weeks to the wedding, then resume searching for something -- anything.
In January, our wedding venue broke the contract, fortuitously freeing us to seek less-expensive alternatives. A field trip with the groom's parents to a promising venue was scheduled for the day in March after we discovered we'd lost all our money when the bank pulled our home equity line after my husband Fred lost his job.
The groom's parents understood and we hastily collaborated on Plan B. Everyone's excited about our now home-grown, almost pot-luck style community-effort wedding. It'll be a blast. We'll probably see more weddings like this over the next few years.
We canceled the professional photographer and the klezmer band. The groom's brother's jazz band will prepare a little klezmer for the occasion. We'll have a boom box. We'll dance wildly.
The groom's other brother will make table centerpieces. For the bride and her bridesmaid sister, I'll tie a ribbon around simple sprays of flowers reminiscent of the fist-clenched dandelion bouquets the kids used to present us.
The bride's brother offered professional stage lighting and pyrotechnics; we declined.
Reluctantly, I let go of the bridal gown I had designed. Gleeful co-conspirators, my daughter and I finalized a sketch last summer and scoured New York's garment district for a small piece of exquisite fabric for the bodice. The outrageously full skirt was to be covered by densely packed, hand-crafted flowers with elaborately embellished stamens. It was to be my masterpiece.
The beast was ridiculously inappropriate for Plan B.
Luckily, by March I hadn't yet purchased the many yards of fabric required for the skirt. I was still working on the muslin, a cheap-fabric mock-up. It had been gathering dust on my work table. I hadn't had the heart to fold it away or even look at it.
When my daughter finally chose a commercial pattern last week, I cleared the table. I bought fabric -- a mill-end piece on deepest discount! -- that'll work perfectly with the New York stuff. It'll be charming, appropriate for the occasion, and I'll derive satisfaction from it once I begin sewing -- which better be soon.
I'll rely on magic to get it all done on time. I already had the fabrics for the bridesmaid and myself. The dresses must now sew themselves.
Fred and I have little money to contribute. We'll buy some ingredients and cook. The kids have ownership of the event, but since they're out of town, much of it falls to the parents. It's fun working with the groom's parents, but the time-consuming work has only just begun.