Let’s Make Memories

“And hold on to memories. Hold on to every moment to keep them alive.”

Some of my fondest memories are those spent with my family in Texas at Thanksgiving. I grew up in Dallas and although I’ve long since become a New Englander, I am a Texan at heart and cherish this holiday more than most because it always takes me home. Well, almost always. Since I moved North, I can count the number of times that I’ve missed Thanksgiving in Texas — the year of the great hip break, last year because of the pandemic, and now this year.

Now, I don’t expect you to be familiar with a Texas Thanksgiving — or my Texas Thanksgiving — but it’s very different from the way we celebrate here in the Northeast. My Texas Thanksgiving is a loud noisy affair where the celebration is organized around the Dallas Cowboys football game. Family arrive midday, always with a Pyrex dish in hand, decked out in their sports paraphernalia, ready to eat, watch football, and kibbitz.

But that’s not all. The meal is a multicultural feast that begins with traditional staples: turkey, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole (with fried onions), cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes (and don’t forget the marshmallows lest you be banished). But then it gets interesting. My aunt Barbara always brings her world-famous homemade guacamole, spicy salsa, and tortilla chips. And you’ll find a sweet noodle kugel, potato latkes, and sometimes matzoh ball soup on the table, a nod to our Jewish heritage.

This is not a dress-up, sit-down, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. No, it is a grab your dish, fill it to the brim, and wrestle for a seat in front of the television for an afternoon of amazing food and hopefully good football.

It’s loud and it’s fun, and I already miss it dearly.

But here’s the thing about memories. They are magical reminders of all that we’ve done and shared in this world with the people we care about most. I smile when I think about celebrating Thanksgivukkah, the rare mash-up of two holidays that happened in 2013 and won’t appear again until the year 79,811. We ate Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house and then traveled to my cousin Alyce’s where we lit the Hanukkah candles, ate sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and played dreidel.

I recall the year when three generations of Katz women (my mother, myself, and my daughters) woke at the ungodly hour of 4 am to hit the Grapevine Mills mall for some serious Black Friday shopping. It was the year Raya made her television debut. She was fabulous.

And I remember the year I bought a custom cake from Carlo’s Bakery (it had just arrived in Dallas, and I was so excited) only to have a little boy, who had been running around our hotel, step on it the second I set it down to grab my car keys. Months later, Raya confessed that the offense was hers; she had accidently stepped on the cake but blamed the little boy when she saw how upset I was. We still chuckle about that incident to this day.

And while I have so many memories of my holiday in Texas, what I remember most is an overwhelming feeling of being loved. Of being home.

Those of you who read my posts regularly probably expect me to follow this personal anecdote with something work-related, something I learned about effective management; building a proud, productive team; or the immeasurable value of nurturing a culture of learning. I’m not going to do that now. I think we can all appreciate family holidays and the precious (if sometimes humorous) memories they conjure on an even deeper level. Because, whether we’re business leaders, first-time managers, entrepreneurs, newly minted college grads, or we’re embarking on a second (or twenty-second) career, we are all people first and foremost.

So, here’s what I wish for you this holiday season whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not: Memories that you can hold onto. Memories that remind you of what’s truly important in life.

“But they’re never really gone. As long as there’s a memory in your mind.” … Disturbed

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