Thanksgiving 2008

Posted on November 24, 2008 by Blake Leath

For too many years, I entered Thanksgiving with a TON of work to be done on the backside of it.  My first week of December has often been as busy as – or busier – than any other week in the year.  It’s generally the mad client rush to ‘get in what we can get in’ before year-end. 

As a result, it’s hard for me to remember enjoying Thanksgiving all that much, at least – in recent years.

Instead, what I recall is being consumed by work over the Thanksgiving week, preparing for and anticipating all that would be required of me the week following.  And then, of course, the same onslaught often just grew and grew, snowballing into the Christmas and New Year week, leaving me zapped every January!

I remember one Thanksgiving where I spent five days – Wednesday thru Sunday – writing a course for a client that had to go to press the Monday after.  Another year, I spent the ten days around Christmas day developing a three-course curriculum for a large banking client because they wanted to ‘go live’ in Mid-January but didn’t decide this until mid-December.  (On both occasions, my family was NOT happy.)  The list of ‘Thanksgivings and Christmases barely had’ is too shameful and embarrassing and personally convicting to mention.

Being an entrepreneur in a service company – exacerbated by this year’s tough market and thin dollars – can make ‘the going’ quite rough.  As is the case for most every for-profit organization the world over, saying ‘No’ can be hazardous to one’s health, and so I have generally found a way to say ‘Yes,’ but often at my family’s expense.

So here we are, the week of Thanksgiving 2008, and how am I doing?  With all my limbs crossed and knocking on wood as I write this, I am very optimistic that I’ll have a more balanced Holiday Season this year than I can recall in a long time.

Yes, I have several curricula to write – a 12-module Leadership series, a new Strategic Thinking module, an entire semester’s worth of content for an Executive Education series, and several smaller projects too minute to mention here – but alas, for all but one of these deliverables, I have ‘more than three weeks’ to finish!

My writing time will be punctuated with two final trips for the year – but I am confident that I can pull it off and not lose my mind in the process.

My wife, daughter, and I will be spending Thanksgiving with family in and around Hilton Head Island, SC and Savannah, GA.  Something about the Southeast always calms my soul.  I don’t know if it’s the billowy moss that swings and drapes like ghosts’ linens or the easy manner of those who live there, but I find myself drawn to the area year after year.

Two of my favorite movies are The Prince of Tides and Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.  Both possess such haunting soundtracks and engulfing moods and scenes that whenever I watch them it’s all I can do to avoid packing and heading for the airport.

And so this year, it’s away we go.  A big trip, ripe with expectation and hope and recovery at the end of a hectic, tumultuous year that runs concurrent to most people’s summary of 2008.

Ironically, as the world seemingly spins out of control, many of us are blessed with good family and health enough to find comfort in those we have known all our lives.  Thanksgiving is a fine time, as good as any, to tell them how much we love them, how much they mean to us, and how fortunate we are – despite our many losses – to either have them still, or to recall their sweet memories and all they did to prop us up on the wobbly bike of life.

My mother sent me a sweet note the other day, commenting, “You make a living by what you get.  You make a life by what you give.”


Now get thee to thy family gathering, and rip yourself off a plump turkey leg and dig in.

Nothing says, “I’m home” like eating meat around a homemade fire.

And do your family a favor, would ‘ya please?  Try turning off the stinkin’ Blackberry for a few days.  If you can’t, try stuffing it in your sock drawer until Monday, or hand it over to someone who loves you.