Why the hell do people do this right before the holidays?
November 30, 2005 8:27 PM   Subscribe

My future mother-in-law was laid off unexpectedly this week. She probably had a week's notice. Is there anything I can do?

(Not my question, but--Why the hell do people do this right before the holidays?)

Background: I am pretty poor myself--graduating from college in a few weeks, looking for a job, planning a wedding etc., so I don't really have the means to help her financially. She is a single mother and my fiance's younger brother still lives at home. We have a good relationship although not terribly close.

Should I do anything? I thought about sending a note to let her know I was thinking about her, but I didn't know if bringing it up would make it worse.
posted by saucy to Human Relations (9 answers total)
She won't have forgotten that quickly - a note to tell her she's in your thoughts would be nice, and probably appreciated.* Maybe you can offer to help refresh her resume or pass along leads you've learned about through your school's career services office. She likely won't be able to find anything until after the new year, so maybe a little bonding time with the new family could be fun for you both, after you finish school.

*Disclaimer: I work for a greeting card company, I always think it's a good idea to send a card.
posted by ferociouskitty at 8:35 PM on November 30, 2005

People do it before the holidays: Saves paying bonus, saves having to have them at holiday parties. By the time the new year is around the person is "forgotten." Sad, but true.

Have you thought about offering your place to your fiance's younger brother (if it'd be helpful?) It might be nice for her to have some time to herself. On the other hand, that might be bad - she may want/need the company?

Does she have any 'vices' - chocolate, a bottle of wine, a favorite musical artist. C'mon I know you're 'poor' but $20 may mean all the difference in the world.

Can you invite her over for some dinners (involving her with your 'family')?

Is there something gratitous you can do to help her with her resume? For example, if she has bad computer skills, could you act as her typist?

And, Please, talk to your significant other - they'll know about what would be nice...and what might frustrate her.
posted by filmgeek at 8:57 PM on November 30, 2005

When I've been poor and unfortunate, close friends and healthy family bonds were forged over shared meals. Invite her over without an expectation that she'll bring something -- even if it means over-inflating your abundance for the sake of her pride. Knowing that she has a safe place to break bread and connect can mean everything.
posted by cior at 9:20 PM on November 30, 2005

A card would be awesome.
posted by desuetude at 9:35 PM on November 30, 2005

I think filmgeek's idea of inviting her over for dinner is great...just to help her remember that family is more important than any job could ever be (sorry, I know that was pretty cheesy). Anyways, while some people might like to be alone to lick their wounds at a time like this, I'd say most would appreciate the companionship.

And filmgeek's other suggestion of talking to your significant other first is also a really good one. Make sure anything you might want to do is within the appropriate boundaries.
posted by johnsmith415 at 10:25 PM on November 30, 2005

You don't say where your or she are located.

A week's notice may not be enough, so if she didn't get a big wad of cash when they laid her off, one thing you can do is look up labour laws where she's located and make sure she got everything she's entitled to. If she didn't, help her do the paper work to file a complaint and get her money.

My aunt (in Ontario) was laid off with no notice. By law they had to give her 8 weeks notice (one week per year worked to a max of 8) and on top of that 12 weeks of severance pay (1 week per year to a max of 26).

Find out what your mother in law was entitled to and make sure she gets it.

And yes, send her a card, and if you suspect that she's running short on money at any point, be sure to invite her for dinner most often, send her home with leftovers, and otherwise unobtrusively help to take over some of her costs to the extent that you can.
posted by duck at 9:02 AM on December 1, 2005

Expanding a little on advice others have suggested (helping her with the job hunt), given the possible generation gap/computer literacy issue, perhaps you could make it clear that you and/or your fiance could help her expand her job search to the online world if she's not comfortable with that arena.

To avoid ackwardness or sensitive topics, I'd suggest letting your fiance lead communications and ask him/her (can't determine your gender) to include your thoughts/good wishes/offers of assistance in her communications. If there is any touchiness/sensitivity it seems less likely to be exacerbated by the actual offspring.
posted by nanojath at 8:56 PM on December 1, 2005

Oh, and this may be a touchy one (requires careful thought and attention to the specific situation) but there have been specific instances in my life when I specified no gifts for particular people, because I did not want to add a financial burden at a difficult time. But again, if you consider it let your fiance take the lead.
posted by nanojath at 8:58 PM on December 1, 2005

from particular people. No gifts from particular people, that is. As in, please no need to get me a gift this year.
posted by nanojath at 8:59 PM on December 1, 2005

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