It’s Sunday evening and for many people this is the last day of the Thanksgiving holiday and tomorrow is back to work day. Roughly 10% of Americans don’t have a job and Monday signals another week of searching for one. From Thanksgiving until the start of the new year no employer really wants to talk or hire you. I am one of those Americans out there seeking the next chapter in my career and I’m not going to the office in the morning.
When you are trying to stretch the budget as far as possible you really don’t like those ads that show pretty people in pretty items doing pretty things for a pretty holiday that used to be about faith but now is about spending money you may, or may not, have for gifts.
There are lists for what to get the person who has everything – a Lear jet, matching Louis Vuitton luggage, dazzling large gemstones set in platinum. gold toilet seats and so forth. What I haven’t seen this year is the list of what to get the people who don’t have everything including a job. So I offer up my list of what to get the people who don’t have everything including a job.
LIST OF GIFTS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE JOBS:
1. Large denominations of cash. Why do people think cash is crass? It fits every body size and shape and pocketbook and no denomination is too big. Remember to give cash gracefully, that’s the part where good manners come in.
2. Gift cards for groceries. Food is good, empty stomach not good and once again… think as big a number as you can live with. During a bad week $5 is just as critical as $500 is on another week. Gift cards can help with those items that food programs don’t typically allow — we all need toilet paper.
3. A personal letter of recommendation. This item moves up to number one if done eloquently. Not only will it help the job seeker feel better, it could help them find a new employer. There’s plenty of information about writing a great letter of reference on the Internet if you need some assistance with the composition.
4. A tune-up for their car. Changing the oil can get lost when making the choice about what’s more important — formula for junior or automotive upkeep? There are a ton of Jiffy Lubes, Oil Can Henry’s, or similar franchises, that could use the business.
5. Gas. I’m not talking about the kind you have on Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s the petroleum product I am writing about. Many brands now have gift cards and a full tank is a good investment in your loved one.
6. Dinner. If your loved one has been out of work for a while it’s a good bet that the entertainment budget is a package of microwave popcorn and Saturday night television. Make sure that there’s enough funds so that it will include a tip and a martini or two along with dinner. Doesn’t have to be Chez Expensive, but please think Chez Tasty Food when selecting a restaurant.
7. Babysitting. Need I say more?
8. Dry Cleaning. There’s something about how great a shirt looks with just a little starch. Men and women have that “look” that fits the work they are seeking. If they would wear a suit to the office that they are seeing to work in then dry cleaning is a big help along the way. Volunteer to wash and iron their interview shirts/blouses for a week if dry cleaning isn’t quite right.
9. Haircut and Color. Haircuts become less frequent and roots get a little longer. When you look the mirror with a fresh new hairstyle it can make you feel like a millions bucks and it shows when you walk in the room for an interview. Styles change and an updated look is good for everyone (men get color too you know). Include the tip.
10. Something fun. Life gets serious fast when you look for a work and the news has nothing to share but gloomy numbers. Tickets to a concert, make your own root-beer kit, radio controlled truck, a flashy sequined purse. It’s not the gift that counts, it’s remembering the human struggle and doing something about it for the person you love.
And now, my DO NOT GIVE THEM LIST:
1. Advice. Do not give them advice. You can offer to help with their resume, keep your ear open and forward valid work opportunities but if it resembles advice in any way KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.
Any phrase that includes you “should, could, would, ought to and/or if I were you.” We are in the middle of the worst economic times since 1929. These days looking for a new career can be devastating and no person wants, or needs, to hear those depressing words. Unless you are in the same boat you are not going to understand the challenges that so many American are facing as the year comes to a close.
2. See rule #1 of things not to do or say. Repeat until there are ten items on this list.
It’s Sunday evening and the quiet has come to the household. My holiday included a visit with my 90 year old mother who recognized me — that alone made it a good holiday but that’s not all. I saw my sister and her grandchildren. I also saw my baby brother who is no baby but I get a kick out of having a six foot-four inch brother “baby.”
I ate dinner with my nuclear family where the menu included oyster dressing (thank you Rebecca) and we all laughed, ate, remembered when and told stories about each other. We drank to pacemakers keeping a sister alive and feeling better. Fresh from the Culinary Institute of America baking program in Napa, California, my niece Kira created a wide array of tasty desserts.
The rest of the weekend involved working in the studio with a friend who is a LMT that travels from Corvallis to Portland to do her glass art work. This weekend I was gifted with the best foot massage ever (thank you Josandra). John and I baked pies. Sure we’d both like to have an office to go to tomorrow but our life stories are in another chapter and we are working on something new for our futures. And, whatever it is, it’s going to be good.
And the most fun of the weekend has been watching the cats go crazy with fresh catnip… but that’s the next story.