‘Tis The Season
It’s that time of the year again. We just celebrated Thanksgiving. I am just waking from my tryptophan-induced nap. Many of us are looking forward to Christmas. It seems we are dazzled by elaborate shop windows, serenaded with holiday songs and carols, and working hard to get business wrapped up for the year. We’re also a bit overwhelmed with shopping, parties and all other kinds of seasonal celebrations and activities. I tend to map out the timeline of this time of year. Thanksgiving is on the front end and the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the end. Believe it or not, I see a thread between the two points.
To begin with, I think we may have lost our compass as it relates to Thanksgiving. In part, it is because the two parts of the word, thanks and giving, are in the wrong order. In reality, the words should be reversed and be the real focus: Giving Thanks.
The Meaning of Giving Thanks
Giving thanks is not (or shouldn’t be) a function of our financial or economic status. It isn’t a function of the car you drive or the street where you live. Thankfulness is a function of attitude and belief. I did not grow up with the belief that I was “entitled” to anything. Hard work, initiative and desire were recipes for the blessings of success. It is this type of mindset that allows people to see the world through a filter of thankfulness.
I give thanks daily for the blessing of living in (from my opinion) the greatest country in the world. We enjoy more freedom than any other country and have greater opportunity than any other country. We have greater economic freedom. Not to mention, we are a country endowed with abundant resources both natural and human. Over the last two years, we have enjoyed economic success unmatched in my lifetime: low unemployment across all demographics, real wage growth, more business start-ups, lower taxes and outstanding (financial) market growth.
Hopefully, we give thanks every day for the family, friends and co-workers in our lives. I admit, there are some days I don’t especially like some of these people all that much. Then again, that train runs both ways! We all have experienced hurt or disappointment or even anger with these relationships, but they also bring us pure joy; and that is what we should hold onto.
It seems that we generally have an insatiable appetite for “more” – more money, a nicer home, a new car, newer technology, etc. However, when I focus on what I don’t have, I get depressed and disappointed. When I change my approach to giving thanks for what I do have, I am a lot happier. Giving thanks for the home you have, having food to eat, a job to go to, good health if you have it (and the care of excellent medical professionals if you don’t), friends, and family.
“It’s A Wonderful Life”
The approach of giving thanks in all circumstances can seem a bit Pollyannaish. There are plenty of times that we are not happy about our situation. But that brings me to one of my favorite holiday movies: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The movie came out in 1946 and was directed by Frank Capra starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you watch it. James Stewart plays a banker (George Bailey) who works for a harsh, tyrannical boss, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore). George is deeply frustrated with his job, his boss, his home, and a family member who makes a costly business mistake (although Mr. Potter is the culprit). He feels that he is such a failure that he is convinced the world would have better without him.
In the story, a guardian angel (Clarence) is sent from heaven to show George what life in his community and his family and friends would have been without him. The story line is like Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” in that Clarence gives George a glimpse of the past, present and future without him. In the end, George’s desperation and depression turn into a different attitude and appreciation for how gifted his life really is.
I am not sure how many of us will be visited by a guardian angel in our lifetime. However, as we charge through this holiday season and look forward to 2020 with all its promise, I am convinced that if my attitude is one of gratefulness and giving thanks that, even though I probably won’t keep my New Year’s resolution to lose weight, I will be happier and so will the people around me.
‘Tis the Season’ for Giving Thanks for Your Business
As we close out another year on the calendar, on behalf of all the team at Enlighten Financial, I want to say thank you for your business over the past year(s) and your trust and confidence in us. ‘Tis The Season for Giving Thanks! We look forward to partnering with you in the future and wish you all a blessed holiday season and a prosperous new year. In the immortal words of Tiny Tim in “The Christmas Carol,” “God bless us, everyone!”
Richard Rudolph is Senior Consultant at Enlighten Financial, a specialized consulting firm that focuses on loan review and risk management services to community banks and credit unions. Enlighten Financial has made it our business to shed light on the complex financial landscape, and lead clients in the right direction. We work with financial institutions and other providers to mitigate risk. To talk to Rick directly, please call: 920.445.8133
Tags: 'Tis The Season, Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving