Matt Knutson: Seek out opportunities to give this season

Published 6:30 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I don’t think I played nearly enough Tetris growing up in order to fit all of this into our car,” I told my wife as we prepared for our Thanksgiving holiday travel. It was our first overnight outing away from home with both of our young girls and our dog, meaning every inch of space in the SUV was precious. With the firm belief that challenges bring the best memories, we departed our driveway ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.

It wasn’t long before I began seriously considering trading in our mid-sized SUV for a bigger vehicle. We had anticipated this, as previous travel without our new addition was already filling up the vehicle. In the weeks leading up to our newborn’s birth, Sera would half-jokingly point out the commercial transport vans, typically used to shuttle people to airports, as a desirable alternative to what we currently have. I don’t think I could ever commit to a van, so I suppose I’ll have to start looking at Winnebagos pretty soon.

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Though few people love to travel, the reward of seeing those you most care for is certainly priceless. I think we all could use a few more priceless moments, especially on days like today — Black Friday. Last year shoppers spent $5.2 billion between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a truly astounding feat. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to value just how important the things are that you can’t buy. Hopefully our thankfulness on Thanksgiving sets a tone of gratefulness that carries onward through the end of the year.

Of course Black Friday is a true spectacle these days. Entire websites exist to help people navigate the ads across retailers so you can find out where the best deal is on the particular item you want as well as when the sale begins. We can spend hours strategizing where we will go and when to maximize our haul of gifts for friends, family, and let’s be honest — ourselves. On one of the largest shopping days of the year, I encourage you to build in some extra time in the day for a different kind of shopping list. What are the priceless items on your list that you want to lift up throughout the holiday season? For some it is their friends and family, others might appreciate their talents and achievements in the past year. If you don’t have anything priceless for your list, I have a suggestion: volunteer. As a board member for a local nonprofit helping homeless families achieve independence, I can unequivocally say that the look on a struggling family’s face when they realize there is an ambitious, hopeful future ahead of them is priceless. There’s nothing uniquely special about my ability to help in this capacity, which means you can, too. Seek out opportunities to give back to grow the priceless moments this season.

Maybe it’s a good thing that our vehicle is full this year. If there’s no room for Black Friday shopping, we’ll be forced to reflect on the gifts with which we’ve already been blessed. Thankfully, there’s always more room in the car for memories.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.