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Thanks (&) giving

December 3, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Watching one too many commercials concerning Christmas, I was wondering what happened to Thanksgiving. Black Friday becoming Thursday which is backpedaling to right after the elections – is there an irony there of sorts about politics and Santa?

I caught myself feeling sorry for those entrepreneurs and employees that have to work the holidays. I mentioned that to one of our small business vendors who simply replied “Yea, but I will be able to ski during the week when it’s slow!”

After first I was thinking, “Here we go again, an Adirondacker having to dance multiple ways to make a living. They have to give up family time on the holidays to make it work.

And then he followed up with, “And it’s great because during the week, you can have the mountain almost to yourself.”

Indeed.

Eye of the Beholder

And that is our tourism environment isn’t it? All of us have to sacrifice something whether you are an employee or a retail shop owner.

Growing up in a small business environment, I learned that “dates” don’t mean anything; it’s the “time” you spend as a family. I remember as a young kid being disappointed that we could not celebrate the holidays when most others could. Others might have already seen Santa or had that family “day.”

My parents would always make the holidays special. I looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas “time” not a date. I think I was working on my graduate thesis when I finally figured out that Thanksgiving was always on a Thursday.

Time vs. Day

There was something more romantic about “time” than a date. It seemed to offer something more expansive. It came to mean the opportunity to do a bunch of things: not only “THE” dinner, but the morning after brunch, skiing one day and playing games as a family the next. Christmas and Thanksgiving moved beyond the day to a time.

When I reflect back, as I tend to do during the holidays and think about my father and other family members no longer with us, I think about the “times” we had. Sure, some things have a date to them like birthdays and anniversaries. Even now though, I can’t remember the year. I can only remember the times we had.

Memories

Like the time, my father lost his false teeth in the trash and we spent the holiday at the landfill trying to find them.

Or the time, we decided to “liven” up the holiday dinner by throwing on this massive bear rug we used to have and parading it outside the big picture windows making all kind of noise. We scared the daylights out of everyone all right. Things were going quite well, this ruse, until my mother decided to chase away the “intruder” with the kitchen cleaver.

True Meaning?

We would always take the time to remember what these holidays were for. Each Thanksgiving time my father would give us a history lesson. He was so proud as an immigrant to be given a chance in America. The ideals of liberty, equality and democracy never lost upon the man just as it was hard work and effort that were required to keep it.

In those early years in the Adirondacks struggling to make a go of it, there were no “bought” gifts. The presents that were under the tree were few in number and they were all home-made – including the ornaments. The excitement and celebration was built around Santa who came early in the morning stomping his feet and jingling his bell. He rang out all kinds of wild “Ho, Ho’s!” with the strangest accent I ever heard. There was no tree, no sign of Christmas until Santa arrived.

I can’t remember the dates or even most of the presents now, but I remember the times.

Time Forward

As an entrepreneur, I am also reminded during the holidays that we need to keep moving time forward. It is difficult sometimes to have the confidence to say “Yes! That’s it!”

I came across a blog last week in the Huffington Post “Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught? An Ode to Thanksgiving” by Penina Rybak. I was immediately captivated by a quote she uses from Anthony Robbins "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears."

Small businesses and entrepreneurship is the “new reality” according to many thought leaders. As personalization and being able to adapt quickly to customer preferences becomes the norm, small businesses are being looked as the innovators to lead the charge because we can move quickly.

Give Thanks

In “7 Reasons to Give Thanks You're an Entrepreneur” in About.com, Amanda McCormick lists among others:

- “You can work in your pajamas. Or a velour track suit. Or a bunny costume. Whatever floats your boat and help you get your work done -- you call the shots.” - “You can't get fired.” - “Your success is your own.” - “Life is short. You are likely an entrepreneur because you figure life is too short to spend it chasing other people's dreams.”

McCormick finishes with an interesting quote from “work-hard, play-hard entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.” In an interview with Forbes magazine McCormick says "I don't think of work as work and play as play. It's all living."

Indeed. Now, where are those skis?

 
 

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