[Editor’s Note: Before I turn this week’s post over to Elaine Grogan Luttrull, I want to thank you for being an artist. Thank you for your gifts of beauty and wonder to the world. Thank you for your ongoing support and interest in my work. My job as an artist advocate would not exist without you. I am both mindful and grateful for having you in my life.]
Here in the U.S., the days after our annual Thanksgiving holiday are full aren’t they? Not of leftovers, or family, or shared community experiences, but rather, they are full of scheduled thematic days to embrace the start of the holiday season and the end of the calendar year.
We shop on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday; we purchase online on Cyber Monday, and finally, we get around to supporting those in need on Giving Tuesday. We’ve even started hearing about colored days: Green Monday and Gray Thursday (also known as Thanksgiving Day).
I suppose on Sunday we rest, perhaps in order to reflect upon all the deals we hope to pursue in the following days. A moment of pause empowers us to operate on fast forward the rest of the time. Balance, after all, we tell ourselves.
It was Vice-President, Joe Biden, who said, paraphrasing his father in an editorial for the Times, “Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” Perhaps the same could be said about the order in which we expend our cash. First: Massive deals; then: community support; followed by convenience and charity.
Ouch. No wonder we’re run ragged.
So what if we left out the parts we don’t enjoy and focused on those that we do?
Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday as an adult, mostly because it is so simple. We come together, we share a meal and some moments of reflection, and we rest.
Our Thanksgiving tradition usually involves turkey (although we have substituted Peking Duck and pizza on more than one occasion), but rarely does anyone rise early to begin preparations. We can eat just as happily in the evening as we can at noon.
But maybe your meal differs. Maybe you begin with an early lunch and travel to a second home for an evening meal. Maybe there is nothing you love more than rising before the sun to stuff and roast a large bird.
Our Thanksgiving traditions have never included shopping (other than for more wine) or decorating for the Christmas season. But the do usually include a card game and occasionally a family movie.
But maybe your traditions differ. Maybe you play the Kenny Rodgers Christmas album as soon as the pie is out of the oven and string lights while eating leftovers. Maybe there is no better way to bond with your extended family than camping out in front of your favorite store and embracing the competition of commerce.
By most standards, our family’s holiday is boring. And yet, it suits us perfectly, and we seem to be having more fun than everyone else. (But again, that could be because of the wine.) Our family’s traditions have evolved to best reflect how we enjoy spending our time. Occasionally, we play Pictionary. We usually eat. We usually visit. Occasionally there is some sort of physical exertion (a formal Turkey Trot or an informal stroll to the park).
We are incredibly lucky for a long list of reasons, some of which we can take credit for; most of which we can’t.
That’s why Giving Tuesday—more so than Black Friday or even Small Business Saturday—makes perfect sense as part of the Thanksgiving lexicon.
Giving Tuesday has become a rallying point for non-profit organizations, and to the extent that the shared promotional efforts (not to mention the free coverage from news outlets and others), the rallying cry is a great one. (Organizations continually do more for less, and Giving Tuesday certainly represents a rallying moment in support of all organizations.
So pick your favorite organization and make a contribution on Giving Tuesday. And beyond.
Because we can enjoy supporting our favorite causes, not just on Giving Tuesday, but throughout the year. After all, gratitude is the common thread that unites all of our very different Thanksgiving holiday traditions. We can be grateful as we enjoy our own celebrations, no matter how they unfold. And we can appreciate our good fortune every day, even when we feel less-than-fortunate.
Here’s hoping your holiday season and the rest of your year is full of mindfulness and gratitude, both in how you spend your time and how you share your resources.
Joe Biden would be proud.
Elaine Grogan Luttrull, CPA, is the Founder of Minerva Financial Arts, a company devoted to building business and financial literacy in artists and arts organizations. She is the author of Arts & Numbers, a financial guide for creative entrepreneurs, and her classes and workshops are offered both online through the Starting SMART online learning series and in person. Find her online, on Twitter, and on Facebook.