Thanksgiving week has always been my favorite time of year. It’s a time when my entire immediate family packs up and road trips down to Georgia. We spend a glorious week surrounded by the loved ones who we rarely get to see, yet we enjoy the deep familiarity of a group that sees each other often. This is something we have done almost every year of my entire life, until last year. The absence of this tradition rocked me to my core during a time when we were already so anxious and unsure of the future.
Now that Thanksgiving week has come again, I find that many things have changed. Our beloved grandparents had to sell their homestead in the mountains and move into a retirement home in the city so they could be closer to family. The group that usually gathers for the holiday has dwindled. There have been many difficult losses since we were last together, and those absences will be keenly felt. This year we were faced with a tough decision about whether or not we wanted to be in the city, near our family, or stay in the vicinity of the old family farm and commute in to see everyone. Ultimately, we decided to get a rental in the mountains. As I sit here staring out the window of this house on the side of a mountain, at the sun shining through the forest, I know we made the right decision.
Being here always fills me with a hope and joy that are difficult to put into words. Although it is not my grandparents’ farm, this entire mountain captures the essence of it. To me it represents the American Dream that was realized for both of them.
Going Back in Time
My grandpa used to tell me how he was working his family farm and herding cows on horseback at 7 years old. He was the child of an immigrant who learned that anything could be accomplished with hard work. Through the years, he always pushed himself to expand his knowledge and abilities. He honed his skills. He was smart with his money. He never lost his sense of adventure. He met and married the woman that he loved and together they continued to work their hardest. When the time was right, they bought their dream land in the mountains and they built their house. They would begin work as soon as it was light and build until the sun went down. For them, the dream wasn’t about wealth or constantly having more. It was about security, self-sufficiency, and having their needs met.
I have never been more inspired by anyone than I am when I look at what they built. I think it is easy to grasp at things that are instantly gratifying. But if there is anything that I can learn from them, it is that it is ok to work and strive and toil through the present to build your future dreams.
I always leave these mountains more determined than ever to live like they have: to work hard, to never give up, to cherish the ones I love, to never lose my sense of adventure, to build my skills and continue to strive for all of my dreams. This is what Thanksgiving is to me. It is not its history or its symbolism. It is not its controversy. It is thankfulness for my family and everything they have instilled in me. It is gratefulness for nature and its beauty. It is a renewed will to be the best that I can and encourage others around me to do the same.
Making the Best of A Terrible Situation
As I look around this year I see a lot of angst and doubt. More than I have felt before in my life. People are pitted against each other everywhere I turn. And it breaks my heart. This time of year always reminds me to take a moment, to pause and be grateful for the things I DO have. We are such a rushed society that we rarely stop to express thanks for the good parts of our lives. I love this part of year because, I think, it gives people the nudge they need to remember to be more mindful. To realize that the harder we work, the more we can give back, the more we effect positive change in our communities and our world. It begins with us. It begins with a mindset.
I recently watched a short documentary entitled Small Business Revolution. It opens with a the camera panning along a small town street, following a man who is unlocking the door of the barber shop he owns. The voice of Robert Herjavec (most known for his time on Shark Tank) echoes out of the screen. He says, “One of my favorite sayings is that the business of America is business. It is still the greatest country in the world, to come to these shores and start a small business. There is a very unique culture that we have in terms of taking risk. We encourage entrepreneurship more than any country in the world. And when you drive through the small towns or the big towns you see thousand of little businesses. That is the life blood of this country.”
One of my favorite sayings is that the business of America is business. It is still the greatest country in the world, to come to these shores and start a small business. There is a very unique culture that we have in terms of taking risk. We encourage entrepreneurship more than any country in the world. And when you drive through the small towns or the big towns you see thousand of little businesses. That is the life blood of this country.Robert Herjavec
Thank You to All of YOU
Today, I want to end by expressing thanks to all the entrepreneurs who never gave up. Who kept persisting in the face of the devastating hardships of last year. Who hit rock bottom and continued to fight. It is because of businesses like you that Journey exists. It is is why we strive to help you humanize your workplace. Your businesses touch the lives of your communities and your employees and by extension they touch the lives of those of us working for Journey. We are so thankful for each and every one of you.