Keeping our Focus on People over Things

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Independence Day is a day for gatherings with family and friends.  We host parties and then drive ourselves crazy making sure everything is just so.  Do we have enough of this?  Do we need that in order to present the right image or ake sure everyone has a good time?  Aside from ensuring we have enough food and drink for our guests, we also second guess our home and our backyard.  Do we need new cushions for the deck chairs?  Do we need a new fire pit?  Do we need new patio furniture?  Do we need a new grill?

The Holiday Business

Stores do a brisk business in red, white, and blue themed everything around this holiday, but do you really need new cups and pitchers and decorations and cushions just to have a more patriotic color scheme for one day?  I’m not saying don’t buy a red, white, and blue wreath for your front door if it truly makes you happy.  My advice is to really think about why you’re putting these things in your cart, whether physical or digital.  If it’s because of pressure to conform and worries about your image, then you can opt out.  You can choose to focus more on the people and less on the things.  If you’re worried about what other people will think, then remember that things will not make you someone else.  Social judgments can be devastating, but you don’t need the stress.

You Can Rebel

The reality is that you probably don’t truly need any of those things.  While the celebrating of our independence from an oppressive government may seem distant, or for others it may hit too close to home, the reality of what the holiday has become is togetherness.  We come together with our family and our friends and in many ways, we are celebrating our freedom to do so.  The more people say ‘I’m not buying cheap items just for one holiday’ then the more others will feel able to make the same choice.  Do we all really want cheap plastic pitchers with stars on the side that are peeling within an hour?

In a world that tells us that we can be better hosts and better friends if we buy this thing, you feel the pressure.  The reality is that you are a better host by being present at your gatherings and talking to your guests.  Food, drink, and conversation are what people will remember the most about any event.  You are a better friend by listening to others.  Perhaps you ensure there’s a vegetarian or gluten-free option for food because you listened when your friend mentioned how difficult it is to attend gatherings due to their dietary needs.  Perhaps you ensure plenty of non-alcoholic drink options for those who do not want to imbibe.  Perhaps you draw your shy friends into the conversation because you want them to feel included.

It’s the People Who Matter

So don’t worry so much about the things you have and what people will think of those things.  Most of us just aren’t paying that close attention.  Focus your attention on the people in your life today and let’s all be thankful for them.  We are a crazy, mixed-up, grab bag of amazing people and it would be a shame to miss a moment of that to worry about deck chairs.  The primary benefit of a simple life is bringing into focus what really matters.  At the end of the day, it’s the people who make memories, not the things.

Happy Independence Day everyone.