It used to be that you saw neither hide nor the whiskery hair of Santa until after Thanksgiving. In fact, it was his placement as the last participant in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that marked the formal kick-off to the holiday season.
This year I saw my first Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.
Things have changed.
While commercial interests would like us to focus on the Black Friday sales (many of which now start online and run the entire week of Thanksgiving), the truth is, that this time of year isn’t supposed to be about that. No matter which holiday one observes during this season, the theme of them all is clear – gratitude. This time of year is for thinking about the people around you and giving to those who are less fortunate. Being grateful for what you have and the ones you love is most important during these months.
This is where you cue the harps, angels and everyone sings kumbaya.
Joking aside, the truth is that gratitude need not have a season. Just as social media and technology platforms are enabling great efforts towards social good, they also provide an outlet for people to express their gratitude. The year-old site, Thankfulfor.com, a “gratitude journal” started by D.C. based social entrepreneurs Jen Consalvo and Frank Gruber, allows people to share things they are thankful. The range is endless, from the latte just consumed before a meeting to the life of a loved one who has recovered from serious illness.
ThankfulFor has gathered interesting data over the past year. Frank and Jen released this information the week of Thanksgiving. They identified 10 key themes of gratitude from the thousands of users who contributed over the year. At the top of the list, with more than 43% of the content, was being thankful for people. Technology was at the bottom of the list, placing number 8 out of 10.
The lesson: while technology may be useful for sharing our thoughts and connecting with others, the people around you matter most. So, this holiday season, look up from your computer screen, look away from that mobile device and connect with the people you love.
You’ll be grateful you did.