Since this is the month of November, I thought I’d write about being grateful or thankful. After all, one of the best holidays is celebrated this month, Thanksgiving.

Grateful defined: feeling or showing an appreciation for something or for an act of kindness; thankful.

While shopping in late October I was not surprised to see Christmas decorations being sold in stores. There was a small section for Halloween, a small section for Thanksgiving or Fall décor, and multiple aisles of displays just for Christmas. I wish it was the other way around with a huge multi-aisle display of everything Thanksgiving. When I was growing up, we didn’t see any decorations in the stores or hear any Christmas music playing until the day after Thanksgiving. You see, being thankful came first, and it was intentional.

Somewhere along the way the rush of finding the best deals, and the thoughts of all the new things we could buy took over and we, as a society, seem to skip past being thankful, or grateful. I’d like to tap the breaks on Christmas and spend a little time being grateful and content this month, and I ask you to join me in assessing our gratitude levels. As I look around our neighborhoods in Allen, we are doing pretty good as a community. Yes, there are people who are lacking the abundance of others. I’d venture to say that many who lack some of the finer things in life, are more content than those who have the best of everything. I think it starts by having a grateful heart. Where there is gratitude, there is contentment. Being content with what you have brings joy, peace, and happiness. Even the definition of content says so:

Content defined: in a state of peaceful, happiness.

So, with Black Friday fast approaching and while there is still time, take this month of November to ask yourself, “Am I grateful, thankful, or even content with what I have?” Ask your kids the same question. Open up dialogue with them about needs and wants, and what is most important. I bet their answers will surprise you. The list of things you think they want, or need may be shorter or much different than you think.

After Christmas last year, I was talking with a friend in the neighborhood, and she explained to me how their family gives gifts at Christmas. Her family receives 4 gifts. Something you wear, something you need, something you want, and something to read. I thought that was a very practical way to approach Christmas gift buying and prevents excess. The recipient is not expecting the motherload, and a spending limit can be set for each item decreasing the likelihood of going over budget. I thought it was brilliant. Giving gifts with a little more thought and intention could have saved our family thousands of dollars over the years. Not to mention the stress of it all.

So, as we go into the gift giving season, make this month about being grateful and content with what you have. I would also like to invite you to consider another gift to add to your list this year: a fifth gift, something to give. Have a conversation with your family and make a collective decision about which charity to give or donate to this holiday season. It could be the Salvation Army Christmas tree, Samaritan’s Purse, Marine Corps Toys for Tots, or your local community food pantry. Caring for our community, near or far, is so important, and brings more joy to the giver than any gift under the tree. Remember to be grateful and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sheri Wilson is the owner of a Farmers Insurance and Financial Services Agency in McKinney and the author of Do I Have To? A young adults guide to putting financial structure in place and align their spending with their values. Available for order: www.dioihavetobook.com, Barnes & Noble, Booksamilion, or on Amazon.

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