Thanksgiving is my favorite US holiday. It’s a nearly 400 year old harvest festival at one of the most beautiful, dramatic and transitional times of the year. Mother Nature knew what She was doing with Autumn.
As of the latter half of the 20th century, however, the Thanksgiving Holiday is hard to recognize in the United States. It’s becoming the holiday squished in between Halloween and the green light signaling the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Blink twice and it’s gone. You have to get through Thanksgiving to hit the Christmas sales at the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which I still suppose represents the annual People’s Economic Stimulus Package for this nation.
Thanksgiving is the only Holiday where people are not focused – obsessed – on giving lots and lots of STUFF to each other. It’s about sharing a meal together and catching up with each other. Taking some time to breathe and enjoy each other’s company. Not rushing through dinner to get to Presents. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving gets overlooked so much.
After all, you only give GRATITUDE and THANKS on Thanksgiving. To others and for others.
I mean, what’s that all about?
Recently, I was discussing this topic with Beth, one of my sales colleagues. She couldn’t have agreed more with my “take” on the situation. We were both so not looking forward to running around like madwomen in December, delivering client gifts and closing out our sales year while cleaning our homes for December holiday celebrations and keeping track of the sales at the malls. Sounded like a definition of perpetuation of insanity to us.
We like our clients. We enjoy working with them. This year has been a real time in the trenches for them. We are thankful to have been given the opportunity to be in the trenches with them. We didn’t want them to get lost in the midst of our – and their – end of year, well, “stuff.”
So we both decided to make the Thanksgiving holiday the emphasis, from here on out, for our customers. Why? Because it once again makes sense, particularly in this most challenging economy.
Thanksgiving is a way of giving thanks and gratitude to family, friends, colleagues and clients. It comes at a time of year – especially this year – when it makes sense to take pause and reflect. The original Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival of harsh times. Well, I can’t think of a holiday that makes more sense for all of us to celebrate right now.
When is the last time that you have given thanks? Folks in sales are already in the midst of frenzied Q4 churning and burning towards the “close” of their sales year trying to make those numbers. By December 1st they are also delivering client gifts and sending out holiday cards. Engineers are trying to finish out projects so clients can be invoiced to bring cash into already strained revenue streams.
Let’s face it. Folks are thankful to have jobs right now. So Thanksgiving might just have a whole lot more meaning than it has in the past. And perhaps the significance of Thanksgiving will be rediscovered so the holiday doesn’t once again fade away into the tsunami of purchasing frenzy about the December holidays.
I’m asking you to take a step back. Rather than checking one more thing off a long list of stuff you have to do before “the close” or year end, why don’t you review what you have achieved this year, not so much in dollars, but in creating value for yourself and your organization?
We have weathered a long and harsh economic lesson, and it is not yet over. We are not quite sure where we are headed, but we have steered a firm course this year towards an uncertain horizon. And we are still afloat, surviving, thriving, doing some things very differently than we would have a year ago.
This year, instead of December Holiday cards and client gifts, why don’t you send your customers Thanksgiving cards like my colleague and I decided to do? We will deliver small gifts and send out cards of thanks the week prior to Thanksgiving. We will have the time to enjoy what we are doing. Our actions will have symbolic significance for us. This expression of our thanks and gratitude to our customers will not be mixed up in the frenzy of the close of the annual sales year or fiscal accounting exercises. Just as we are taking time to prepare a feast for our friends and family, we are taking some time to enjoy our client relationships. We work hard for them. We earn them. We enjoy them.
It’s not all about the sale. It’s about how everyone arrives at a decision. My thanks to my clients.