Like many people, Christmas, for me, is a chance to spend good quality time with my family. As my family has grown, we have all worked hard at making sure that we preserve the tradition of quality time spent in each other’s company. This, for us, goes far past getting together for a dinner. We are fortunate enough to be able to take a couple weeks each year and celebrate the holiday season together. This isn’t always easy as competing schedules, competing families (yes, apparently mothers-in-law also have rights at holiday times), and travel logistics come into play. As our numbers have grown so too has the scheduling havoc. But I wouldn’t have it any other way and I feel incredibly blessed that my kids all want to spend that much time together. We all know how small a place can become with a lot of adults hanging out in the kitchen. I often think we should film a movie about all the various scenes that play out daily as we reconnect and get caught up on each other’s lives. We aren’t the Kardashians by any stretch of the imagination – so it would, of course, just be a home movie for us to enjoy!
As a start-up entrepreneur some 30 years ago, I was away from my family a lot. As a single mom, that absence was only amplified. Our Christmas holidays were often the only time that I was able to put the world aside, along with the day-to-day stresses of existence, and focus myself at home (although, full disclosure, even that’s not 100 percent accurate because work was never far from my mind.) The reality of it was this: my clients and suppliers were mostly shut down for the holidays, and that gave me the same opportunity in return. Otherwise I don’t know I would have had the ability to turn off what was, in fact, the only means for us to have that turkey on the table.
If you can afford to, give yourself a break, and give your family the thing that they want the most - time with you
When we had little or no money our Christmas certainly looked different than it does today. But Christmas still felt the same as does now. And isn’t that the goal? In life and in business, we all need to remain grounded. With some success comes challenges – in fact, success itself can present a big challenge. It’s so easy to forget what brought you here and who you were before you enjoyed a modicum of success. And it’s also easy to be so driven by success that it impacts your priorities – and not always in a good way. Personal success can change you. Professional success is no different. Both individuals and businesses can become fat and lazy and complacent if they rest on their laurels and quit trying to excel. How many gifts there are around the tree is not a measure of anything.
I try each and every day to remember the past. Not because I want to be rooted in it but because I strive to be grounded by it. We need to make sure that as entrepreneurs we stop, take a deep breath, and put everything in perspective of why we do what we do every day. Christmas is one of those days where we can be with those we love and contemplate the very gift that this, in and of itself, is.
I hope each and every one of you has the opportunity to enjoy this gift of time with your loved ones. If you do have to work, and I know that is true for many of you, then try and remember why you are doing it all. It’s impossibly hard to be away from family and friends as you pursue a goal that is, at the end of the day, for them too. I have been there and I know just how difficult it is for everyone. If your family is what’s motivating you then don’t forget to tell them. And then, if you can afford to, give yourself a break, and give your family the thing that they want the most – time with you. A couple of days off is good for anyone’s soul, even an entrepreneur’s.
Sometimes the best present is simply being present.