Do you know someone who is out of work this Christmas?
What gift will you take them?
Of course, you would give them a job if you had one to give, right?
But short of that, what will you do to make their Christmas brighter?
…A strange thing happens when you lose your job.
Your whole life seems to come to a screeching halt. And suddenly you feel like you've become invisible.
You are reduced to being part of a faceless statistic in an occasional unemployment story.
And you find out very quickly who your real friends are. They are not those people you worked with every day for years who suddenly forgot that you exist.
You worry about your unemployment compensation running out, about your ability to provide for your family and not lose your car or even your house.
But it's not just about the money. Your dignity has been crushed. You no longer are productive, integral. You no longer feel like you have value. You may even feel ashamed.
You may get up each morning and sit in front of a computer to find and apply for jobs – eventually facing days, weeks, months of incessant rejection. You send out those written, rewritten and rewritten-yet-again resumes but hear nothing.
Or you get lucky, finally get a call and put on what used to be called your Sunday best clothes for that long-awaited interview. Then you find yourself sitting across from someone half your age and you know almost as soon as he or she takes one look at you that the whole thing was yet another waste of time.
The upbeat "I'm-in-job-transition" crowd will tell you to get up bright and early and get dressed to go to work, because your job is finding a job. And it is. But after about the sixth month or so, you may find yourself still in your pajamas halfway through the afternoon. Life starts to feel pretty hopeless.
And it feels especially hopeless at Christmastime, when everybody else seems to be celebrating, not to mention spending money with wild abandon when you're watching every dollar.
Those who have been fortunate enough to keep working the last two or three years have no clue what you're going through, how much you are suffering from the nightmare in which you are entrapped and from which you can't wake up…
So who do you know that's still out of work? A friend? A neighbor? A family member? No matter how much they may need it for themselves or their family, they're probably too proud to ask for your charity.
But you can at least make an effort to see them over the holidays. Take them out for lunch or to a movie, listen to them vent because they need to vent, give them a hug, give them a shoulder to cry on.
At the very least, pick up the phone and remind them you care.
Do whatever you can to assure them that they still have value to themselves and to you.
That small gift of your time and your compassion will help make their Christmas a little brighter. That's what this season is supposed to be all about, giving a little love.