I've heard at least half a dozen people complain about their lack of a holiday party this year.
But the way in which they express their disappointment varies. And as more and more industries see rounds and rounds of layoffs, it appears that most of those employees are just grateful to have jobs.
Some people I know, particularly in the banking industry, were used to their companies throwing lavish events, like renting out an ice skating rink.
Obviously when half the desks around them are vacant, they aren't going to ask their boss the reason for a lack of an elaborate celebration this year.
However, they and a handful of other people I know decided to stop sulking and just go out themselves—yes, even with their own money—and spend some time hanging out with their co-workers, leaving the griping sessions at the office.
I walked into two such get-togethers last week alone. And had I been locked up in a cave for the past six months, I may never had known that they were suffering through a bad economy.
It kind of reminds me of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," when the Grinch believes that if he takes all their presents away (or in this case, free booze and shenanigans), he'll hear everyone crying instead of singing. But instead, they sing louder because they realize the "true meaning" of the holiday.
(Hint: It's not something you can touch or drink.)
A few years ago when I was working for a chain of newspapers in California, several people griped that our gift from the company was a $10 gift certificate to the local supermarket.
I, for one, took advantage of the fact that supermarkets out there sell booze, and thanked the company for my bottle of wine.
One copy editor said that he bought toothpaste and deodorant with it.
That wasn't a sarcastic remark. That was his way of saying he'd take whatever he could get because he needed the help.
One of the best ideas I heard from these employees making their own parties was those who asked anyone showing up at the local watering hole to come with a can of food or a toy and that the organizer would donate it all in the name of the company.
Wow, a selfless act of generosity even without free booze. What a concept.