What is different about Thanksgiving?

November 23, 2014

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D

For most people I know, Thanksgiving is their favorite Holiday. There is nothing attached to it other than the experience of the holiday itself. There are no obligations. It is without a religious component. It is a day when the family gathers to eat, drink and watch television.

However, if you are a member of a family owned business (FOB), Thanksgiving is not as simple a holiday for you as it is for others who don’t live/work in a FOB. You go to dinner with your families/bosses/fellow employees/partners. The holiday does not protect you from the ambiguity of those relationships. Consequently, you do not experience the same level of relief from the daily grind, or the pleasure of being only with family or friends and leaving the workplace behind.

Families who work together can sometimes be terrible when it comes to communicating about difficult issues. They can participate in wholesale denial about the issues that challenge them. This is a holiday when you should embrace those characteristics. As difficult as it is, I suggest putting the thoughts and conversations about the business aside. Here's a chance to embrace denial: pretend that you do not have an (FOB). The people around you who are not directly involved will be thankful.

We all know that an FOB can be all consuming, that it is difficult to stop thinking about it. We have to replace those thoughts with something. I suggest you concentrate on being mindful of the name of the holiday and concentrate on giving thanks and appreciating what you have. If, while you are in the process of concentrating on what you have to be thankful for,  and somehow the thought passes through your mind that you are lucky to have your family around you, and/or if you have happen to have a successful business for which you are also thankful, I won’t tell anybody.