A client recently brought a “new home” gift to our offices – it’s a pillow with the phrase “Gather Together” emblazoned across the front. The pillow is super pretty and looks great on my thinking chair in my office. (I’ve yet to sit in the thinking chair, but my colleagues seem to enjoy it!) My client didn’t realize that what she brought was a physical reminder of an intangible philosophy.
You see, a long time ago, when I first wrote the business plan for this little venture, I wrote a mission statement. All the textbooks in graduate school said you should have a mission statement, and it felt good to have some kind of affirmative goal for what we do here. We don’t always go running around shouting this phrase out loud and it’s not framed on a wall in the offices (maybe it should be?) but we periodically think about the mission statement when we’re in the midst of the busy season to remind ourselves why we give up our nights and weekends.
We create meaningful celebrations that bring people together.
We love that word “together” means so much to us – we cook food and plan environments where people who gather will enjoy their time together. For a large-scale event, it’s quite the responsibility. But this time of year, we find ourselves involved in much smaller affairs – dinners for 20 people and holiday celebrations for 45. These smaller events bring as much meaning to our company (and our hearts as workers in this company) because we know the dinner we bring or the table we’ve set is a small part of a larger moment.
All of these events are opportunities for people to come together and break bread and share a memory. As we enter this season of thanksgiving and the holiday celebrations that follow, so many of us get caught up in how to schedule everything we want to do – both with family and with friends. We create more stress for ourselves in planning get-togethers that are supposed to be fun and relaxing! But I challenge y’all this year (and challenge myself as well) to rejoice in the fact that there just aren’t enough Saturdays in the month. Be glad that you have friends who WANT to spend time with you. Do whatever it takes to spend time with those you love. Stay out later on a weeknight. Bring coffee to your kids’ ball practice and share a cup with the other over-worked moms and dads there. Get up a bit earlier and have breakfast with your long forgotten former coworkers. Drag your daughter along for a reunion with your college roommates on a random Friday night. Make the drive. Spend the money.
When those family dinners start coming together, instead of worrying about who will sit where and what strange recipe your crazy aunt is going to ask you to try, be thankful you have a dinner to enjoy at all. Take a moment during the inevitable family “discussion” around the dining room table to lean back and enjoy the cacophony of loud voices and multiple, simultaneous conversations. Embrace “dirty Uncle Sal,” knowing full well he’s never going to change, but you will miss him when he’s gone. Play games with the sticky, messy nieces and nephews. This season is but once a year, and these same people may not be able to get together again next year.
I know how hard it is to schedule celebrations around work and competing schedules. I spent some time with my sister this past weekend, who lives just one hour away, and realized it had been over two months since we had seen each other. Good grief! She’s my best friend and we haven’t made time for each other. We vowed to do better. Certainly we talk on the phone, send text messages and communicate on Facebook, but there’s nothing better than sharing a glass of wine in person. Sadly, I even have to say to myself sometimes, “This moment is more important than my to-do list, so stay in the moment.”
After big events, like weddings, there’s always a round of photos I usually get to see. My favorite photos are the unexpected shots of guests just reveling in the celebration (sometimes too much!) Seeing people laugh and smile together is the reward and satisfaction of this industry. Let it also be the reward for you at your own events. Enjoy your time together.