The Holidays are here, although it’s possible that they don’t necessarily feel the same as we’re accustomed to. Traditions are often the backbone of the holiday season, and for the first time, many of us are finding ourselves in a position where some (or many) of these fondly anticipated celebrations are temporarily infeasible in the ways we may have come to expect each season. However, just as we have adapted our lives in numerous ways over the past year, we will continue to celebrate, connect, and share the season with those important to us in ways that are possibly even more meaningful than we have done before.
It’s time to get back to basics. As an Event Manager, before I start planning the details of an event, I always ask myself, “What is the purpose of this gathering? What is our ‘why’?” Take some time to consider what your holiday traditions were intended to convey or produce, then brainstorm how you can accomplish these goals in a more simplified or direct way if the inability to gather in-person or travel impedes on your plans.
Here at the Academy, everyone looks forward to our annual holiday luncheon. We normally get dressed up and go out to a nice restaurant where we eat, play a White Elephant gift exchange, chat with our colleagues, then enjoy the remainder of the afternoon free from work. When the decision was made to transition the event online, we set out to identify the goals of this gathering — celebrate our team, create an opportunity to socialize, reflect on the year, and have a relaxed afternoon. To accomplish this, we scheduled a Zoom meeting, mailed each of our team members a nice basket of goodies, encouraged them to get cozy or festive with their outfit or backdrop, and sent them a simple prompt to prepare an answer ahead of time: “What is something you have learned this year; a new skill, life lesson, or something about yourself?”
We opened the “Holiday Happy Hour” with an inspirational message from our President, Robert Armstrong, and CEO Sanford M. Fisch, and then while everyone sipped on their drink of choice and snacked, we went around the “room” and shared what we learned this year. Let me tell you; we laughed, we cried, we cheered. We learned new things about each other and made connections that we didn’t know we had. At the end of the party, we realized that we had in fact fostered an environment that was even more conducive to the spirit of the event we had wanted to host all of these years. The quality of socializing along with the focused opportunity to really reflect on the year prior accomplished our goals in a way that truly exceeded any of our prior years’ celebrations, despite the physical limitations we faced.
Change can be challenging, and during the holidays we all feel pressure to create the most picture-perfect and memorable experiences, but by being in the present, those memories create themselves. We often speak about it in the realm of Estate Planning; “The best things in life are not things.” It is important to shift your focus away from what could be better, to what is already good and positive, in order to experience the best of what the holiday season has to offer.
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128