Thoughts About the Holidays


What a wonderful time of year it is. Holiday season makes us think of many of the things that have become synonymous with Christmas and Hanukkah: holiday music, gift-giving, an exchange of greeting cards (emails today), church and synagogue celebrations, special meals, holiday cookies, egg nog, singing carols, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, menorahs, wreaths, colored lights, garlands, mistletoe, holly and nativity scenes. It is the time of year that many of us still enjoy watching Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore.

It is a time of year to spend time with family and loved ones and a time to count all of our blessings. It is a time of year to remember those who are less fortunate than we are. There are many, particularly today, who need assistance and it is a time of increased charitable giving. Anything that can be done to help, should be done, especially when it comes to helping disadvantaged children who may be particularly sad at this time of year. A helping hand or an act of kindness can go a long way. It is a time when people devote time and energy to causes which are most meaningful to them.

Generally, at this time of year, people are in better spirits and “goodwill towards man” is commonly exhibited. On busy streets and in crowded stores, people tend to be more courteous and kinder towards each other. The holidays tend to put us in a good mood and cause us to think about others and their feelings more than we might at other times of the year. It is a time when we often put ourselves into the other person’s shoes to think about things from their perspective. When we do this, it encourages all of us to treat others with courtesy, dignity and respect.

To illustrate, I would like to share a story with you:

Years ago, a 10-year-old boy approached the counter of a soda shop and climbed onto a stool. “What does an ice cream sundae cost?” he asks the waitress.

“Fifty cents,” she answers.

The youngster reached deep into his pockets and pulled out an assortment of change, counting it carefully as the waitress grew impatient. She had “bigger” customers to wait on.

“Well, how much would just plain ice cream be?” the boy asked.

The waitress responded with noticeable irritation in her voice, “Thirty-five cents.”

Again the boy slowly counted his money. “May I have some plain ice cream in a dish then, please?” He gave the waitress the correct amount and she brought him the ice cream.

Later, the waitress returned to clear the boy’s dish and when she picked it up, she felt a lump in her throat. There on the counter the boy had left two nickels and five pennies. She realized that he had enough money for the sundae, but sacrificed it so that he could leave her a tip.

The moral of this story, before passing judgment, first treat others with courtesy, dignity and respect.

So at this wonderful time of year, I take a break from thinking about real estate and would like to wish each of you and your families a happy, healthy and joyous holiday season filled with love, hope and goodwill towards others.

Mr. Knakal is the Chairman and Founding Partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services in New York City and has brokered the sale of over 1,000 properties during his career.

10 Responses to “Thoughts About the Holidays”

  1. 1 Sibyl S. December 22, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and inspiring story Bob! This year particularly, with people in such dire need and friends still out of work and just trying to cope…it seems hard to get into the holiday spirit…but we do need to remember what it important and giving to those in need is certainly most precious and rewarding…Congratulations on your new blog! Happy Holidays!

  2. 2 JLW December 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Good story!! It emphasizes two things which we frequently forget in our society. The First thing is we must never confuse money with value. Even when the economy is working well, the value we place on things is rarely properly represented by its price tag. That explains why our economy got so out of balanced in the last few years when we confused real value with market price. The second thing is that we must never lose sight of the value of human interactions. If business is done with more human value and consideration, we will all find it to be more meaningful than just money/goods/services changing hands.

    Happy Holidays to all!!!

  3. 3 Faye December 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Bob, This is very touching story! The “what’s in it for me” mentality seems to be prevalent especially in the business community.

    Thanks for reminding us that its not all about the money, and let us remember what Einstein said. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

  4. 4 HEG December 23, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Bob, once again your words are clear and thought provoking. Happy Holidays to you, your family and the gang.


  5. 5 Cornelia Netter December 24, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for that story of the little boy! Over the years I have heard and/or read it numerous times before and each time it brings new tears to my eyes — not tears of sadness exactly, just tears that spring up when I am deeply touched. So thank you for kicking off the Christmas weekend with it. (Incidently, I love your blog!)

  6. 6 rknakal December 27, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Hi Sibyl, Thank you for your post. Your compassion for your friends shows that you are in the holiday spirit. Enjoy time with those closest to you.

  7. 7 rknakal December 27, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Hi JLW, Thanks for your post. You make two excellent points. The first can be linked directly to the asset pricing bubble we experienced in the real estate market from 2005-2007. Price and value are, indeed, two different things (which sometimes are equal) and knowing which is which is frequently difficult and could be different for different people. We could do pages on this topic alone. With regard to your second point, that is exactly the reason why I was never worried in the early 2000’s about the web replacing commercial real estate brokers as so many people predicted. Commercial real estate is not a commodity and even if every single piece of data could be loaded into a model on a listing website, without personal interaction, it would be nearly impossible to transact business. The human element is what makes our business what it is.

  8. 8 rknakal December 27, 2009 at 3:24 am

    Hi Faye, thanks for the post. I love the Einstein quote!

  9. 9 rknakal December 27, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Hi Howard, Thanks for your post. I wish the same to you and your family as well.

  10. 10 rknakal December 27, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Hi Cornelia, thank you for your post. Stories like that one tend to remind us of what is important. It is often that we are reminded of them during the holidays but we should all try to remain aware of this spirit throughout the year. I hope all is well with you and thanks for the kind words.

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