For our wholesale business, Thanksgiving was not a major contributor to our bottomline. It was never much of a fruit holiday, and the upturn in vegetable sales didn’t compensate for increased overtime expenses. On top of that, the week following Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the slowest weeks of the year due to full bellies and leftover laden refrigerators. Simply put, we were happy when December arrived and brought the Christmas and New Year’s holiday business.
Apart from business, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. No gift-giving to worry about, no end of year pressures, no wondering about whether to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanza, or Merry Christmas. To me, Thanksgiving is a time to sit back with family and friends and reflect on how lucky I’ve been, and how much I have to be thankful for.
As a kid, Thanksgiving was never very special to me. It was a nice long weekend off from school, a big turkey for dinner with relatives, whom I saw on a regular basis, and some extra football on the television. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that the Thanksgiving holiday became one of my favorite times of year.
In June of 1970, I met Pat, the woman who would become my wife less than three years later. We fell in love while working at a summer camp in North Georgia; the following Thanksgiving, I was invited to her home to meet her family. I drove from Pittsburgh to Tennessee, and arrived at her family’s home a few minutes before Pat and her mother got in from the airport.
Upon my early arrival, I was quickly introduced to southern hospitality. Pat’s then 12-year-old sister, who was home alone, offered me a cocktail, which I readily accepted as we waited for the rest of her family to arrive.
That weekend was a special one. I, a bearded, long-haired Yankee, found commonality through a love of football with Pat’s father, a Tennessee-born and -bred businessman with a heart of gold. Underneath all that hair, I think her father saw a normal guy — despite my bellbottom jeans and liberal politics.
That 1970 Thanksgiving started a tradition for Pat and me that continues today. Over the years, Pat and I celebrated Thanksgiving with extended family in St. Louis, Kansas City, Nashville, and of course Pittsburgh. Thanksgiving also marks a sad time for our family. In 1985, my mother-in-law had been terminally ill for several months; upon our arrival in Nashville on Thanksgiving Day, she hugged our boys, held our five-month old daughter for the last time, fell asleep, and passed away two days later. Even now as I type, my eyes well up thinking of her.
Simply put, we were happy when December arrived and brougt the Christmas and New Year’s holiday business.
Throughout college and as young professionals, our children lived all across our great country. No matter how busy their schedules, they did everything possible to be home for Thanksgiving; the fourth Thursday in November is the day that was always circled on the calendar.
Now that our children are grown and have families of their own, it’s not always possible to have everyone together for Thanksgiving. Traveling with infants and toddlers is not easy, and our children and their spouses have two families with whom to celebrate. Because of our growing family, it makes it even more special when the stars align, and we have everyone together at the Thanksgiving table. This year is one of those years, and I’m looking forward to a special holiday. I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take some time to reflect on your blessings.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that there is so much to be thankful for every day, not just on Thanksgiving; Here’s a list of some of the things I am thankful for:
• I am thankful for my family: Their love and support make every day a blessing.
• I am thankful for my good health and that of my family.
• I am thankful for my friends, old and new, from whom I’ve learned so much.
• I am thankful to live in the United States, and for the right to enjoy its freedoms.
• I am thankful for our military and first responders who keep us safe.
• I am thankful for those who worked with me to build a great company.
• I am thankful for my opportunity to be a part of a great industry.
• I am thankful for the wisdom and perspective that comes with age.
• I am thankful for my sense of humor that helped to get me through tough times.
• I am thankful for Jack Daniels, which helped me get through tough times when my sense of humor did not.
Alan Siger is chairman of Siger Group LLC, offering consulting services in
business strategy, logistics, and operations to the produce industry. Prior to selling Consumers Produce in 2014, Siger spent more than four decades growing Consumers into a major regional distributor. Active in issues affecting the produce industry throughout his career, Siger is a former president of the United Fresh Produce Association.