No not us – we remain alternatively housed. This is a movie titled “Homeless for the Holidays.” I was sent a dvd copy to review and I was looking forward to watching the movie. I thought it might relevant to our situation – maybe I’d identify with the story. But I didn’t. And I found it a bit unbelievable for the first half – but I liked the ending.
Briefly the story is this – Jack, a heartless (of course) executive (in an ad agency) loses his job because a typo on a cleaning fluid label leads to hundreds of people being poisoned. The even more heartless boss of the agency makes him the sacrificial lamb much to the delight of his less talented but very ambitious co-worker. So first of all we start with a far fetched beginning. Then it turns out that a competitor has been wanting to hire him (and he knows this) but instead of moving his family to take a job in his field with this firm (probably with even more pay) he applies for a job at the used car lot run by the sleezy guy who sold an elderly lady in a walker a car that had to be push started! (I couldn’t take this seriously).
This sorry fellow (who spends the first half of the movie feeling sorry for himself) finally ends up in a penguin suit working for minimum wage at a local hamburger stand where he is mocked by his old co-worker (Wesley). In the meantime the phones and cable tv have been turned off, Jack’s car repossessed, creditors are calling (or were until the phone was turned off) and Mom has gone to the social services to apply for food stamps (which she’s originally confirmed eligible for and then denied because their minivan is paid off and therefore an asset that counts against them). I actually found this part of the movie more true to life than any other part.
There’s a back story about the unethical boss at the ad firm trying to keep this guy from going to the competition (which he wasn’t showing any inclination to do anyway) by dangling the possiblity of being rehired. The sleezy ambitious co-worker gets in on it and tells Jack that he’ll get a Christmas bonus if he calls the competition and says he’s not interested. So the idiot does just that without even listening to the offer.
But the bills are piling up because even though Jack has a job it isn’t enough to pay the bills and support the family. So certain of a warm welcome now that he’s turned down the competition, he goes back to his old firm to pitch some new concepts for environmentally responsible products. Sorry – the sleezy boss has no interest in rehiring Jack, and, sorry again, there’s no bonus. Oops. Looks like he shouldn’t have said no to the competition after all. As Wesley says “we all look out for numero uno.”
If they don’t have $5,000 by December 20 they are out on the street. With nowhere else to turn Jack goes to the pastor of his church (mind you Jack hasn’t been much of a supporter of the church or its ministries) and he’s told that the Feed the Needy Fund only raised $72 and there are 14 church families facing foreclosure. The utilities are turned off but Mom keeps up the family spirit by lighting a fire and candles. This is a turn around for her because she’s been nagging her husband to get a real job and pay the bills. The kids tell Jack that even though there’s no heat (the issue of things like the food spoiling in the refrigerator doesn’t come up) and their classmates mock them it’s worth it because they get to spend more time with daddy sitting around the fire singing carols. Walking to church on Christmas eve they give their last few dollars to a homeless man on the street even though it means going hungry themselves. The homeless man yells “God Bless you kids and I hope you get good grades in school and a good job and never get laid off!”
At the end of the service Jack, feeling like a loser because his family is going to be homeless in 3 days, goes outside and meets the kindly, yet mystical, old gentleman (Santa? God?) who imparts the message of the Christmas season – the importance of giving, and of genuinely caring about others and opens Jacks eyes so that he can see that he has become that sort of person. And Jack’s kids give away their few Christmas presents to people more needy than themselves.
Then Jack and his family, having found a new humility and sense of what is important – family, giving, caring – and what isn’t (American consumerism and impressing the neighbors), leave their foreclosed home and live in a tent village where they are fed by the Feed the Needy Fund. I’ll let you watch the end so you can see just how transformed Jack was and what he did with it (this movie, we are told is based on a true story).
I’d hate for other people to have to fall from such a high perch as Jack to come to the same conclusion he did about what is important in life. I feel lucky that I already knew that before the bottom was knocked out from under us. Perhaps it has helped to make our journey more bearable.
To learn more about the movie and see the trailer, go to http://homelessfortheholidaysmovie.com/
You can purchase the film through Amazon.com.
As for us, although the republicans blocked the extension of unemployment benefits before going home for the Thanksgiving break, we have enough money to get through January. So we’ll still have our little tin-can home for our holidays.