At the Thanksgiving dinner table we took turns sharing what we were thankful for. There was lots of gratitude for friends, children, love, and good health. I went last and didn’t know what to say. (Shocker, I know.) Of course I’m grateful for having two legs, air conditioning, and a father who doesn’t judge me when I have adventures where my storytelling begins with “Well you know me being me…”
I finally blurted out, “I’m grateful for naturally straight teeth and a genius IQ.”
“No. Seriously, I’m grateful for having purpose in my life.”
I had an epiphany last holiday season. One day we sold 500 gifts. While not an Amazon number, that’s a lot of gift-wrapping and that was only one day. It made me think about what a gift truly is.
A gift is a 3-D representation of gratitude, appreciation, celebration, and love. It connects people. It makes at minimum two people happy- the giver and the receiver. What if the giver is a couple and the receiver a family? What if that gift gets used by siblings or passed down to a future generation? Is used in an office by who knows how many people? The ripples of giving are endless and you’ll never know how many smiles will be generated from that one exchange.
Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to hear stories about the gifts that leave my shop. One dad told me a story about the LA book he bought last holiday to give to his soon-to-be-adopted son. Chris and Joseph adopted twins six years ago. They learned that the mother of their kids had passed and that the father of the 8-year-old half-brother was going to jail. They agreed to adopt the boy despite the risk to their family dynamic and financial situation. They would move him from Kansas to LA after the holiday. The dads drove their new son around LA showing him the sights. As they pointed out the Chinese Theater the little boy exclaimed, “I know it already. It was in my book.”
To know that a book from my shop helped this child feel welcomed and safe is exactly why I work seven days a week.
I am a connector and it’s my job to curate happiness. These aren’t just books, candles, housewares, or gifts. They are tools for joy.
I wasn’t blessed with children of my own. (So much for those good genes.) However, I know with every art kit, every book, and every toy that leaves my shop, I’m connecting with the improvement of a child’s life.
I refer to my employees, my elves, as my children. I’m responsible for feeding and housing them and creating a place where they are happy to be 40 hours a week.
People often ask if I’m successful. I know they’re asking about whether or not I make money. Well, I can’t control who walks in or what they spend but I can control that they leave better for having spent some time with me. So, yes, I’m very successful.
Each day is an opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives, which I strive to do one smile at a time. I’m blessed that my store allows me to fulfill my purpose.
When you’re shopping this holiday, remember how lucky you are to have people to buy for- parents, teachers, co-workers, friends, children. Not all of us have that.
You have the power to make people happy with your gifts. The more you have to give, the better you are going to feel.
You may not know your purpose. It’s actually quite simple. Your job here is to make the world better. Give thanks for having the tools to do so.