There are many drawbacks to being unemployed. While isolation, an identity crisis and lack of purpose are pretty high up on the list, a lack of money hits home sometimes more than others. With today being October 15, Christmas is but two and a half months away. For that reason, it’s a hot topic today, and Halloween and Remembrance Day haven’t even passed!
I’m an advocate for future planning, and in this case, planning for Christmas which is coming whether you decide to put blinders on or not. While there are some things in life we’d rather ignore, it’s going to be hard to not be inundated with the run up to Christmas. And let’s face it, without employment, the stress of job searching and a tighter bank account, Christmas may for some be cancelled. But does it really have to be?
What might you do with over two months of time to make sure that there are gifts under a tree for those you love; the very ones perhaps who have been so supportive of you during a lengthy job search? Not everything has to be purchased at a retail store with a big price tag to be appreciated.
Many years ago now, I owned a home which had a wonderful little workshop in the backyard. It had electrical power and it had light, and into that little workshop I’d go during the early Fall right around now with scraps of wood, ends of pine boards I’d saved from other projects instead of burning or throwing out, and my trusty scroll saw. There I’d happily absorb myself for a couple of hours tracing a pattern of Christmas trees, snowmen, and snowflakes. Once traced on a piece of pine, I’d cut them out, and then cut each shape into perhaps four or five pieces further. Once painted bright red or green, they would become puzzle pieces.
Now this project would be one where I’d turn out perhaps thirty; some for small gifts, and some I would set aside to build an inventory, and these later I would sell at a local Christmas Craft show. Individually they didn’t go for much, but collectively and because they were inexpensive, people would buy them all up; just like they grab items at a store check-out. To this day I’ve got a few of those decorations that sit proudly out at Christmas time in our home.
And here’s an idea you could work on now that’s also fairly low-cost that makes use of a current fad. Have you seen all those wonderful quotes with images all over the internet? Some are better than others, but there are quite a few that inspire and have an impact. If you chose to, you could scour the internet and print off in colour or black and white several of those pictures containing quotes. Then using some craft store podge, adhere them to a thin board and tack on a border made of cheap trim material you paint. What you end up with is a collage of inspiration with a clear shiny coat of protection from the podge. It’s creative, it’s personal, and it’s inexpensive.
These are only two examples of projects that are inexpensive and demonstrate that with some input of effort, you can make a gift that comes not from a store, but from your mind, your heart, and made with your hands. Sure beats telling everybody in your family that Christmas is cancelled this year. And it is much preferred over feeling so guilty about a lack of money that you go into a huge amount of debt in order to compensate with your family to ‘prove’ yourself. Remember those January and February bills will follow!
It’s human nature to avoid thinking of things that we find unpleasant or just hope that by the time Christmas rolls around you’ve got income and a job. Hoping for employment is a good thing, but having a backup plan in place that you start early is the best way to guard against disappointment and mounting stress.
Winter can be a time where it’s dark later in the morning, earlier in the evening, and the months of snow, slush, and cold can seem to go on forever. There are many I’ll meet – as I do every year – who allow themselves to be adversely affected by the weather and the pressure of what otherwise should be a joyous holiday season. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you’ll agree it’s everywhere. Ads on billboards, television specials, lights on houses in the neighbourhood, songs on the radio, parties in the workplace and your community, and the activities in your friends and extended families homes.
Of course like anything, it takes some effort on your part to think of what to make, where to get the materials on the cheap or free, and then put in the effort. A side benefit of such activity is not only coming up with gifts for everyone, but you may be taking small steps to resume a routine, finding purpose and being productive might just kickstart your sense of purpose and pride.
Get going now and you could find yourself starting a family tradition that others look forward to for years to come; and it all started that year you were out of work but made a decision to not let your unemployment ruin the Christmas season.