As we get set to start off the monthlong holiday season, I’m reminded of the lyrics of a song written by Pete LaBonne: “Somebody must be praying for me, ‘cause nothing I do is working out the way I planned it.”

 


 


As we get set to start off the monthlong holiday season, I’m reminded of the lyrics of a song written by Pete LaBonne.


“Somebody must be praying for me, ‘cause nothing I do is working out the way I planned it.”


Many of us seem to make our way through life like a broken-field runner, changing directions, dodging obstacles, bouncing back from setbacks, and all the while trying to stay on our feet until we reach the end zone. We look back on a life littered with false starts and wrong turns and wonder how we’ve come as far as we have despite ourselves, while others, who’ve lived more organized lives, are struggling in spite of themselves.


Certainly those of us still standing should give thanks for having gotten this far, because the truth is that most of us are just one wrong move away from being knocked flat on our back — and we might not even be the one making the wrong move.


This year many of us have been blindsided by an economic crisis over which we had no control. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported this month that employment has fallen by 1.2 million in the first 10 months of this year, and that more than half of the decrease occurred in the past three months.


Among those unemployed, the number of people who lost their job and did not expect to be recalled rose by 615,000 to 4.4 million in October. Over the past 12 months, the size of this group has increased by 1.7 million.


In October, the number of long-term unemployed increased by 249,000 to 2.3 million. The long-term unemployed accounted for 22.3 percent of total unemployment.


In September alone there were 2,269 mass layoffs, which are defined as layoffs where one company lays off 50 or more employees at the same time. Those layoffs left 235,681people jobless.


Along with the increase in joblessness is a spike in homelessness. CNNMoney.com cited a report from online marketer RealtyTrac stating 851,000 homes have been repossessed since August 2007. In September 2008 there were 81,312 foreclosures, a 21 percent increase from the previous year.


But we don’t need statistics to know that Thanksgiving and gift giving may be a little harder for many folks this year. The evidence is all around us. The homeless men and women that fill the shelter, or sleep on the streets and automobile backseats are just the tip of an iceberg that is growing larger every day. We see it in our family, friends and neighbors and, in some cases, in ourselves.


Sometimes it seems that nothing works out the way we planned it. For those coping with hard times the holidays can be a stressful stretch. It’s also a time that stretches the resources of our good neighbors: those individuals and organizations that serve the shut-in and the shut-out, the homeless and hungry, the young and the old.


Prayers, no doubt are appreciated, but food, clothing and shelter are needed as well. And for those of us who still have the wherewithal to provide for ourselves and our families, now is the season to give thanks for our own good fortune by helping those in need of assistance as well as those who assist.


Whether you’re struggling with setbacks or looking to give back, there are people in your town waiting to hear from you.


If you have an idea for a “Who Cares” column, you can call Joe Burns at 508-375-4936 or e-mail him at jburns@cnc.com.