Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Or Giving Thanks

I was born and raised in a low-income, lower middle-class, nomadic environment.

For the first 5 years of my life, my father drifted in-and-out of my life.  From one occasional, temporary job, to another.  Battling personal demons aplenty.  Then he disappeared from my life; resurfacing once, briefly, when I was about 14, and died when I was 18.

My mother accepted responsibility for five kids, a yeoman task, not dissimilar to herding cats.  I was the youngest of 5 children.  She reluctantly accepted a role as acting family CEO for about 7 years, before she died at the tender young age of 49.  I was 12.

Humble beginnings!

There is always hope, often when everything seems hopeless.  My siblings all achieved success as adults, in life, love and business… having perhaps been strengthened – rather than inhibited – by the adversity we had experienced in our earlier, younger lives.

In fact, my older siblings provided a foundation for my personal, albeit limited, business achievements to date.  Their skills inventory and professional experience includes two practicing lawyers, four entrepreneurs!  I merely walk in their shadows.

They taught me things you don’t learn at school. 

In my youth, my oldest brother once took the time to explain the difference between a margin and a mark-up to me.  He may not even remember the conversation, but it set me on an early path of acute awareness of overall financial return on investment.  I admired his business wisdom then, and still do, today.

At times, my siblings (and their respective families) took me in, fed and clothed me.  All the time, giving!  Another lesson not typically taught in schools.

My siblings taught me a few life survival skills, the ability to take on and manage business risk, the concept of giving to others less fortunate than we were... and many more quality life lessons. 

They may not even know this!  Maybe they’ll even read this?

At this time of the year in the U.S., people are celebrating Thanksgiving.

The celebration usually includes a family feast, perhaps featuring a mandatory roasted turkey with customary sides, a celebratory drink or two, maybe a day spent in front of the TV relaxing, etc.

This activity can be viewed as ‘carbo-loading’ for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. 

The naming convention – Black Friday – refers to the day when Americans flock to their favorite retail stores in their gazillions.  They drop a few billion dollars on heavily discounted retail items.  Thereby kicking off the traditional ‘holiday shopping’ season, allowing retailers to get into ‘the black’ after having spent the earlier part of the year surviving on the fumes of their ‘normal’ retail margins.

I’m not giving thanks for Thanksgiving, nor for special Black Friday retail offers.

I prefer to be thankful every day… with a deep-rooted appreciation for having so much, while billions of others, want for so much.

Be thankful for a healthy mind, healthy body, and make sure that people who are good for your soul, surround you.  In the greater scheme of life, that’s all that really matters.

Happy Thanksgiving!