When I was 20 years old (yes, that was a while ago) I found myself unemployed. Being 20 and unemployed isn't that unusual. But I was married and the father of a beautiful and precocious 18-month-old daughter. My mother had recently divorced my father and was struggling to raise two youngest brothers, aged 14 and 8. Mom was also looking for a job. My younger brother Mark - aged 18 at the time - was out of work, too.
This was during the early-80's recession.
I remember we woke up in the trailer we lived in that morning, everyone feeling mopey and depressed. We were about to have a down day when my Mom said "Enough of this! Let's have some fun!" She broke out the old trusty Monopoly game and we started playing. Mom said "We need to enjoy today, because we're all going to be busy at our new jobs soon and we're going to wish we had time like this to spend together." We imagined how cool things would be if the money were real dollars. We cracked jokes. We borrowed play money from the bank - no one lost until they were utterly out of any and all options. And when the first person went out, we counted the remaining money, IOUs, and property and declared a winner.
Mom was right. About everything.
The phone started ringing while we were playing that game. Mom got a job. Mark got an interview for early the next morning that turned into a career for him. I got a job too. All before that Monopoly game ended.
It's one of life's memories I cherish. More than anything else, I learned that day that things can change in an instant. Just like the Monopoly game we were playing, life throws you twists and turns. Unexpected things happen; some bad, some good - and some that seem bad at the time but are really blessings in disguise.
For someone reading this, this may be the worst Christmas (financially) you've had in a while, or ever. You may be getting more calls from the bank and bill collectors than from friends and family. The outlook may be bleak. Talk of an improving economy may seem only that: talk.
I want to encourage you: Do not give up. Just like things turned around for me and my family that day while we were playing Monopoly, things will turn around for you too. Your day will come. Enjoy this time and season with your family and friends. One day - sooner than you think - you'll be busy again. This time will never come again. Cherish it.