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Let’s Talk Turkey: Gratitude, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

11.18.2014
TAG employees will be giving thanks across the U.S. this year.
I wrote my first Thanksgiving blog two years ago and polled our team on what they were eating for Thanksgiving.  Last year I wrote about Thanksgiving traditions.  It was fun to see how many different ways everyone celebrates my favorite holiday of the year.  The bottom line is that it is not so much where you celebrate it or what you eat but what the holiday symbolizes.  This year I will continue my annual turkey blog by writing about gratitude.  No matter how difficult and challenging times are, there is always something for which to be grateful.  Not to sound Pollyanna, but most of us have so many blessings that there is magic in the telling.  And with that I will step back and let my colleagues speak.


John Lamar with General Counsel John Mann Sr.
Health

How many times have we all said “when you have your health, you have it all!” And, of course, it is true—but most of us don’t really understand this phrase at a deep level until the health we take for granted is challenged. 

My San Francisco colleague Sarah Mitchell writes, “After having had major surgery for the first time in my life, I’m thankful for my wonderful doctor, and that my recovery was relatively fast and I’m back to normal. I’m also super thankful for friends and family who kept me company, brought me food, and kept me smiling even without the drugs. And I’m very grateful to TAG for being incredibly supportive!”

Sarah will be sticking around the Bay Area this Thanksgiving, as she will be performing in the West Coast premiere of Mary Poppins through the long weekend. "Chim chim chiroo!” 

TAG Controller Gayette Eicher with her grandchildren
Colleague Marchell Mascheck is grateful for the good health of her family.  “This is the first year that my parents will travel to Houston to spend Thanksgiving with us. I realize my Dad’s days of traveling are limited and I want to savor every minute of it.” 

Many of my colleagues write about feeling fortunate to be able to run, to play tennis, or to swing a golf club.  Not sure any of us were as good as we were ten years ago, but hey, we are still in the game. 

Jonathan Berube with his wife and family
Family and Friends

How can you be in the people business and not be grateful for the people in your life? I have found that as I age, the line between friends and family blurs.  Your friends become your family and vice versa.  And there have certainly been lots of changes for The Alexander Group family.

Our colleague Bridget's son, Christian, and their dog, Simba
Colleague Jonathan Berube commented, “l work for a highly successful firm that allowed me to marry my beautiful wife and buy a house. There is so much more to be thankful for, but this year has been a year filled with big decisions and lots of good changes."

Beth Ehrgott in our New York office, who lost her Mother to Alzheimer’s disease this year commented, “My mom’s passing has made me reflect on how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family—two boys who are grounded, focused and full of love and kindness.  I am so grateful that I was my mom’s daughter.  She was extraordinary.” 

Similarly, Lori Weeks, our Director of Research, writes, “Last year we lost my amazing grandmother to lymphoma. She lived her life to the fullest. And though she will be missed at the dinner table this year, we will still be serving her signature fruit-salad with the marshmallows and hot-pink dressing (that nobody ever eats, but pretends to). She has left her mark on the world.  I am grateful for the family traditions and legacy they create.”

Alex & Red Managing Director John Mann and family
John Mann, who runs our sister firm Alex & Red, is grateful for ten days he got to spend hiking the Dolomites with his 76-year-old father.  “I was initially concerned about missing work and being out of the country for 10 days but my terrific wife and my colleagues encouraged me to go,” John said.  “Our time together was so important.  It is a tradition I would like to establish with my sons as well.” 

And of course I can’t write about being grateful to family without giving a special shout out to our pets.   So Lucy, Maxine, Major Orange, Margaret, Sophie, Jagger, Maggie, Capone, Dillinger, Alfalfa, Gabriel, Abigail, Ella, Kona, Bella, Gabby.  Onyx, Simba, Bela, Greta Garbo, Max, Violet, Zorro, Ellie, Lucy, Lola, Annie, Gracie, Ruth, and Marilyn: this is for you.   

Bob Callahan with his wife, Ana, and daughter, Livia
Prosperity

Two of our employees, after years of saving, have bought their first homes.  Here is hoping those ovens and fireplaces are working.  And Bill Lepiesza in our San Diego office is thankful he has finally learned how to baby proof a house—at least until the next accident.  And while Bill doesn’t have pets, he feels very responsible for the care and feeding of his orange trees, which are actually prospering. 
TAG colleague Marilyn, who belongs to Sarah, reaching out to candidates


My partner of 22 years (whom I am exceedingly grateful for) is, like everyone else, thankful for health, family and friends.   Additionally she writes, “As I round third base of the best career imaginable, I am pondering the meaning of prosperity.  Of course we all immediately think of prosperity as a booming economy and things it will buy, but it is more.  My online dictionary defines prosperity as ‘succeeding in material terms’ but elaborates and says ‘to thrive—to do all right for oneself.’  Check.  Check.”  Jane will be celebrating her 34th wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Alison Finlay in our Houston office has prospered in a different way. She met her new partner by chance in the elevator—he works the floor below.  Alison will be spending Thanksgiving with her sister and family, who includes niece Taylor Swift—one example of prosperity that is blinding in its incandescence.  

Managing Director Jane Howze with husband John Mann Sr. in Hawaii
The Intangibles

My colleague, Bob Freeman, will spend Thanksgiving in Chicago with his longtime partner and his family. Bob is grateful for memories although his parents and siblings have predeceased him. “I hold so many warm memories that seem like yesterday of them in my heart and Thanksgiving seems like an excellent time to reflect on those.”

Alison with family, including niece Taylor Swift
Victoria Abt in our San Francisco office is grateful for the opportunity to serve and give back. Victoria is a tireless volunteer for abused animals and is grateful that many rescued cats and dogs will have a home this holiday.   And as is her custom, Victoria will be feeding the less fortunate at Glide Memorial Church on Thanksgiving. 
My wonderful partner, Faith, and me


Like my colleagues, I am grateful for my son, extraordinary partner Faith, and extended family that includes her daughters, my former spouse, my partner Jane Howze, the firm’s GC who is also my dear friend and my TAG family.   In addition to being thankful for people, prosperity and health, I am grateful for opportunities.  My son has moved to California to complete his last two years of high school living with my partner and me.  I am so happy for the opportunity to share his last two years before he soars on his own—a man all too fast.  I’m grateful for the opportunities to work and learn from the best clients and business people around.  They inspire our firm and me to be the best we can be.  

And let’s be honest here—I’m grateful my next blog assignment isn’t until the spring.  Gotta be grateful for the big and small stuff. 

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