First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving everyone! While this year has been chocked full of challenges, for me personally and professionally and for our nation as a whole after such a heated election season, there is still much for which to be thankful. While the commercialization of Thanksgiving and Christmas and quite frankly everything in the US, has had businesses pitted against one another vying for the business of the insatiable US consumer, I hope that you’ll put down the Black Friday ads for just a little while, enjoy some time with family and reflect on the many things for which there are to be thankful that have nothing to do with buying new doodads and widgets, no matter how shocking the sale prices.
No matter the challenges, I am so blessed and so thankful for my wonderful family, my happy and healthy daughter and my amazing wife! There has not been a day, no matter how difficult, that hasn’t or couldn’t be made better by a hug from my wonderful ladies. It is what I most look forward to each day when I come home. As I’ve gotten older, this year in particular as I’ve reached another age ending in ‘0’, I have realized even more that life isn’t about things, it’s about people, experiences and how those two affect one another. So while the wild masses are out buying things and creating a number of YouTube worthy videos of how ridiculous our consumerism has become, I will be spending this long weekend with my family, enjoying meals, conversations, experiences and some quiet time that is often absent from the daily grind. Any shopping that I might do, will be done from the comfort of my couch with next day shipping the least of my concerns.
Earlier this year, my wife and I began embracing a more minimalistic lifestyle and putting extra thought into each thing that we own or buy. And while I’m sure that Amazon is disappointed in my recent orders, it has lifted a weight from my mind and my soul. Time that used to be spent searching for the next new thing that I wanted has been spent on contemplating life and planning our next adventure. Instead of having a thing that I get to enjoy by myself for a short time, I get to have experiences with my family and friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Growing up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, with the proliferation of the internet and the advent of social media, every holiday or event or random special occasion was about what you got someone or what someone got you, whether an expensive gift out of vanity or a thoughtful homemade creation. It all seemed more to do with what that thing would make you think or made others think about you. The persistent question from everyone was, “What do you want for…?” I used to say, “I don’t know.” Some smart people would often respond, “Where do I get that?” My Dad and I once thought it’d be a good idea to open a store called, I Don’t Know, or a restaurant called, I Don’t Know, What do You Want? Who knows, it might’ve been a huge hit. But, I now have a much better response for everyone when they ask me what they can get me… Nothing. And then I get to go on and explain why, because I don’t need anything. What I want, is time and experiences with those that I care about.
We’ve been fairly fortunate and have been reasonably successful, so we have what we need. Some are more insistent on getting us something, so we generally recommend gift cards to restaurants as a sort of compromise, to places they know we love or those they think we’d like to try. This gives us the perfect excuse to go and have an experience together and maybe try something new, perhaps create new memories along the way. Some think gift cards are a copout, but for us, they’re quite practical. They don’t take up much space, they don’t expire (usually) and they can show how thoughtful you were in the gesture. The occasional homemade gift card, redeemable for a specific experience, or as is typical in my case, a favorite restaurant that doesn’t sell gift cards and is best enjoyed with family are among my favorites.
So, I challenge you, think about the things you buy and the experiences you have. Why do you do them and do you derive true joy from one or the other? What works for us may not work for you, but I’ve found that knowing not just what works for you, but why it works for you can be quite liberating and might even simplify your life a bit.
Until next time, remember the reason for the season and make the most of every day! Happy Thanksgiving!
Now that the holiday season is upon us, I am hopeful to spend more time writing and reflecting. Much as I did last year, I am hopeful be more consistent in my posts, but we’ll have to wait and see. The coming year has much in store for us as my wife’s education moves into it’s next phase and we’re excited to see where that takes us. Undoubtedly, it will provide a great many things to write about. Here’s to hoping I have the time to write them all down. Thanks for reading!