Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Yes, I do love Christmas and all the sparkly lights and Hallmark movies that come with it. But Thanksgiving is different. It’s an opportunity to turn yourself off and solely focus on what matters: friends and loved ones and great food! No rushing out to buy last minute Christmas presents; no balancing your gift budgets. It’s about rediscovering the art of conversation, catching up with siblings, watching football teams that play better than the embarrassing Jets and Giants! And a chance to use my oven and fill my fridge with food! (We single busy freelancers don’t get to do that too often!).

Thanksgiving is also a chance to reflect. As I writer, I know I’m thankful for a few things, including excellent spelling skills and a working Internet connection. But I’m also thankful for the lives I touch. When I write an employee recognition piece, there isn’t anything more satisfying than receiving a follow-up call or email from someone thanking me for acknowledging him/her. “I took the article home to show my family,” wrote one employee. “We read it at the dinner table.” That’s when you know your work really hits home – literally!

Recognizing that people like a pat on the back, let’s hope workers everywhere get thanks – and give thanks – this season. Here’s to slowing down and appreciating the little things in life during Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond!cornucopia

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It’s not in the cards

What’s not in the cards, you ask? Proper sentiments.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, or maybe I remember a time when greeting cards expressed the perfect sentiment. These days, however, many cards have become downright insulting. Jokes about getting old, watching your weight…whatever happened to simple sentiments – short and sweet greetings that get the simple message across: “I think your great.”? Or, “I hope your day is truly special.” Done. The End.

Yes, I am writing about this topic because it’s Mother’s Day. I went to two different card stores before I found an appropriate card for my Mom. And when I did, I knew it was the one. It was cheerful and tasteful. Do you know what it said? “Mom, you’re awesome. Love you.” That’s perfect.

You don’t need a paragraph of schmaltz. Or a card that’s going to poke fun at what a handful you were as a child. That actually brings me to another thought – is it just me or have cards, like most humans of 2014, become increasingly self-absorbed? Or they’re a reflection of our self-absorbed society. I’ve read countless cards with similar written messages – “Sorry, I only had time to get you this card.” Or – “You already have the perfect gift – me!” I kid you not.

And people wonder why the greeting card industry is suffering.

While we’re at it, can we talk about cliches for a second? With Father’s Day coming up next, I know I’ll be faced with the typical yearly dilemma: my Dad doesn’t golf, he doesn’t drink beer, he’s not into race cars. Well, that just about wipes out every card theme for fathers, or men in general. 

My Dad loves cats. Why aren’t there Father’s Day cards with cats on them? Because felines are viewed as too feminine? Hence the crazy cat lady cliche? How about a sweet card that reads, “For a purr-fect father”?

Too corny? Maybe. But I’ll take that over insults and self-absorption any day.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Christmas. Thanksgivingkah. Yes, the holidays are here. And for freelancers, it’s particularly interesting. What to do when you don’t have an office party to call your own?

I like the Freelancers Union’s approach to this – on December 9th, they’re holding an Unoffice Holiday Party in New York, giving freelancers and independent business owners a chance to mingle in one place. You can be sure I’ll be there; I’m even bringing a friend.

As a freelancer over the years, I’ve been pretty lucky, though. My friends tend to invite me to their office parties as an honorary employee. And of course, there’s usually a client luncheon or party; those are always nice, too.

When it comes to gifts, it’s mandatory to remember the agencies/clients who continually give you work. Even if business was lean this year, a pretty card can’t hurt, or a bottle of wine, box of chocolates. While most consider this to be common sense and good etiquette, you’d be surprised how many people forget that a bit of thanks goes a long way. A Director friend of mine was shocked a couple of years ago when she didn’t receive one bottle of wine from her freelance editors. That’s a no-no.

To conclude: always acknowledge the companies that help you pay your bills and put food on the table. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Image