150 years ago, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be recognized as Thanksgiving, a national holiday.  In 1941, President Roosevelt moved the date as the fourth Thursday in November, citing that the modest change could provide a boost to the nation’s economy.  The nation’s retailers took it from there.  Still, despite the growing commercialism of this cherished time of celebration, there are many aspects of Thanksgiving that are worth sharing.  Here are four of mine.

Small Business Saturday

OK, maybe this is a good example of commercialism – Black Friday “Light” perhaps.  But while Small Business Saturday (and Cyber Monday while we’re at it) takes its place in the queue after the big retail stores claim the day we digest our turkey day feast, I would suggest a greater purpose for shopping the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  It is the right thing to do.  For many years, we have heard that small business is the backbone of the American economy.  Here is a chance to hearken back to the days Norman Rockwell envisioned – a time where there were few large retail chains and the money spent at local small businesses stayed in the community.  Yes, this movement began in 2010, and yes American Express, a large financial institution in behind it.  But supporting your local small business is good for the consumer, the small business and the community you call home.

Taking stock

As a business owner, I always looked at the Thanksgiving holiday break as an opportunity.  The Friday-Sunday period following the holiday was always a time for me to take stock, both personally and professionally.  Sagan Medvec, Co-Founder and Creative Director of the Small Business Design Center writes a brief yet interesting perspective that addresses three components: focus, improvements and morale in a timely article entitled Thanksgiving and Your Small Business.

Enjoy dinner as a company

When I was a kid, my mother’s extended family would always celebrate an Italian Thanksgiving on “Thanksgiving Eve”.  Two consecutive days of competitive eating interrupted only by the obligatory high school football game held on Thanksgiving morning.  For years, we have celebrated in a similar fashion at Genesis, oftentimes holding a company dinner before we all headed home for the longest holiday weekend of the year.  While we have toned it down a bit in recent years, the chance to share in the special camaraderie of the season is important.  The 95 employees at Firespring, however have taken the celebration to a whole new level.  Read Lisa Thompson’s article – A Firespring Thanksgiving:  Our Most Beloved Workplace Tradition to learn more about this remarkable company and the way they cherish this important holiday.

Include “giving back” as part of your corporate identity

Every company should have a corporate identity that includes a commitment to their community.  For us, I am proud of what Genesis has done as a small business raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the efforts of Habitat for Humanity, local scholarship funds and cancer awareness.  Next year will bring the 19th running of the Genesis Battlegreen Run.  Our staff and the many member of the community who work with us on the event are all part of it.  I couldn’t be prouder.

A recent article that appeared on the boston.com website speaks of the great efforts of Ahold USA the supermarket conglomerate that includes the New England chain Stop and Shop.  In Extend corporate giving beyond the holidays, author Jamie Jaffee writes “Ahold is a prime example of this commitment to philanthropy that goes beyond writing checks to embrace that broader identity year-round.”  Ahold may be a large company, but they set a good example for all businesses – large and small – to follow.

Giving back – there is no better way to give thanks.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.