Everything I want for Christmas

“Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?”

Do you remember being asked this as a kid? I do. For me it provided a mixed bag of feelings and emotions. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but I distinctly remember my parents doing everything they could to provide for my sister and I. I think the end result was exactly what I needed as a kid, a feeling of my parents wanting to make me happy, but a recognition that you don’t always get what you want in life just because you wish it.

Truth be told, I didn’t always get exactly what I wanted for Christmas, because like most kids, what I wanted was the most modern video games (for the SEGA Genesis 32 bit… Anyone?… Anyone?…) and I don’t know, the latest Honda dirt bike from their conveniently late November mailed catalog of next years models.

When we are kids we place a big emphasis on stuff. Many of us as we grow older place less and less emphasis on inanimate objects, and more emphasis on the importance of on relationships and experiences. Or do we?

– Experiences, not things, bring long-term happiness

Studies, have revealed that memories of experiences bring about happiness for years to come, partly due to the effect of diminishing joy of seeing a particular bought object shortly after purchasing or being gifted them. Think about the last time you got a new TV. It was simply brilliant for the first few days after you got it, you almost sit in awe looking at its magnificence. Two weeks later you still get fleeting moments of “that’s a pretty sweet TV I have”. A few months later you have a few random thoughts about how much better this TV is than your old one. A few years after getting the “new” TV, is now an “old” TV and you are left WANTING or “NEEDING” a “NEW” TV. Funny how that works isn’t it?

Conversely, having an experience in your life that develops memories never really diminish on their happiness return, as evidenced by, well… Just think of a positive memory you had as a kid. You can remember it pretty clearly cant you? Now think of what you got for a present that Christmas… You have no idea do you? You are probably like me and remember a few really awesome gifts you got as a kid, but have forgotten all the others.

– Where is your Christmas spirit?

As I grow older I have learned that mine is in my heart, not in my wallet or under the tree.

My thoughts are with my Marine Corps brothers and other service members who are fighting in far off foreign lands. And have not seen their home soil for any holiday for years.

My thoughts are with those Police Officers, EMT’s, Nurses, Doctors, Dispatchers, and Firefighters who will keep our society running, working jobs that do not allow “Holiday hours” while the rest of us have our days off.

Enjoy what you HAVE this season, not what you WANT, be appreciative for your family, whether you are with them this year or not, be thankful for what is going good in your life, not what could be better.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and happy holidays from the Northwoods Team.

Rory K. McLaughlin, CEO