As the holidays approach, we begin planning how we are going to make the best holiday ever. In our minds, we carefully design the way we want our holiday celebrations to be. We plan everything so it will be perfect. Our goal is happiness. But what really makes a holiday the best holiday ever? Is it the best food? The best gift? The long weekend? The hectic preparations?

Recently, I found out that none of that really matters if we are not surrounded by the people we love. One day, I was working with my coworker Rodrigo and we started talking about our Thanksgiving plans. I told him my family and I were going to host the celebration this year. Rodrigo asked how many people we were having over to our house, and I replied I thought we were going to have about twenty-three people. What he told me next made me stop and realize how fortunate I am. He said, “You must be loved.” I was immediately overcome, energized with joy and a genuine desire to give thanks for what really matters in my life – the people in it.

Rodrigo’s wise words remind me of a movie that I watched called Into the Wild. The film is based on a true story of a young man, Christopher McCandless, who journeyed into the wilderness to prove that he could live away from everything and everyone. Instead of proving that he needed no one, he realized that he did need people. Even though it can be chaotic at times, we need to be surrounded by people. We were designed to rely on each other. In the final moments of his life, Christopher wrote on a board, “Happiness [is] only real when shared.” Take time to appreciate those around you, the ones that support you, listen to you, care and love you. They are the ones that make you who you are.

Happy Holidays!