The end of the year is fast approaching, and many of us are simultaneously looking backward and forward. We take a moment to assess our personal, professional, and spiritual progress as we complete yet one more orbit around the sun, and wonder what the next trip will bring.
We Americans are strivers who believe life should be the steady upward march of measurable, material progress toward perfect happiness. When we take our annual “holiday review,” we become frustrated if our bank accounts haven’t grown, our waistlines haven’t shrunken, our teeth aren’t whiter and brighter, and all our relationships aren’t in tip-top shape.
So we make our resolutions to save more, eat less, forgive and forget, work harder and smarter, make it to church more often, call our parents and/or our kids, check insurance policies, reduce taxes, clean the gutters, fix that leaky faucet, and on and on, ad infinitum.
There is so much to do. And so little time – our most precious resource – to get it all done.
Good grief! Just like last year! This is madness!
If we’ve made progress, do we believe it to be enough? Does everything end with a, “Yes, but …” because everything is on a relative scale? Does Warren Buffet, looking at his $47 billion in assets, say to himself, “Dang, I’m not as rich as Bill Gates! He has $53 billion! Maybe next year!”
Maybe never being satisfied is the truth of the human condition, and the source of all progress. But when you boil it down to the individual, where do we find our deepest satisfaction and happiness?
I love the story of the woman who decided as an experiment to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show, and follow her advice to the letter for one year, and write down what happened, which later became a book. When she concluded her quest, she was exhausted and depressed, and her marriage was on the rocks.
So, we can’t have it all, even if we follow all the advice. And we need to make choices. Perhaps the focus should shift from doing to being. Think about the why more than the what.
One of the best, sweetest annual expressions of what is really important this time of year is found in the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas special, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
Believe it or not, the show originated as an idea from an advertising agency and was commissioned by the Coca-Cola Company and created in only six months, start to finish. One of the most successful pieces of entertainment ever produced, the show was the result of a collaboration between cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, producer Lee Mendelson, who happened to be Jewish and who also helped write the lyrics to Christmas Time is Here, and animator Bill Melendez, with a jazz score by Vince Guaraldi.
When shared with CBS network executives, they thought the special would bomb, because the pace was too slow, the animation too limited, the voices too unpolished (the first time children’s voices were used to voice children), the jazz score was inappropriate, and there was no laugh track. The audience, however, loved it. Schulz, Mendelson, and Melendez went on to create 45 more animated specials.
The cartoon opens with Charlie Brown depressed about the commercialization of the holiday (and this is 50 years ago!). Snoopy has blinged out his doghouse to win a contest; Sally is writing Santa Claus for “tens and twenties,” and Charlie Brown, directing the school play, is ridiculed by his class for his extremely modest Christmas tree. In despair, he asks if anyone knows what Christmas is really all about, and Linus steps up and recites scripture from the Bible, describing the birth of Jesus, finishing with, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.”
Inspired, Charlie Brown leaves the school and attempts with a single bulb to decorate his tree, which nose-dives, and he thinks he’s killed his tree and failed again. The rest of the gang shows up, and restores and decorates the tree, then wishes him a Merry Christmas and they sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
Charlie Brown learns the meaning of Christmas, and maybe of life.
Which I will summarize here: The value of friendship, family, and community; the importance of peace and goodwill toward men; and the need for every individual to feel appreciated and important.
Thank you to our great clients, without whom our business would not exist; thank you to the staff at Lenz who work hard every day to deliver on our promises; and thank you to our excellent partners who strive to help us in so many ways.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
This time of year is always special at Lenz. There’s something different in the air. You can feel it when you walk through our doors. Laughs are heartier, eyes are open wider, steps are lighter, and our trains of thought are admittedly a bit spacier, all because of one thing – the holidays. Get to know the softer side of our team this season as they share their favorite traditions and precious moments.
“At my house, we would always:
- Look at holiday lights on Christmas Eve or sing Christmas carols at home or in the neighborhood.
- Eat oyster stew on Christmas Eve.
- Get to open one present on Christmas Eve.
- Set out a note, milk, cookies, and carrot for Santa and reindeer.
- Take turns opening one gift at a time in the morning. You had to guess what you thought it was, turning the gift giving into a game.
- Wonder why Santa’s gifts didn’t come wrapped. Apparently the guy’s too busy! In fact, he’s so busy, he would only eat parts of the cookies, and drink only some of milk, and the reindeer would eat only part of the carrot.”
-Richard Lenz, President
“Back when I was 8 my brother Richard gave a gift to my sister Suzan. It was a large box that was fairly heavy. Little did my sister know know that she was the initial recipient of an original Claxton Fruit Cake. It was a great gag gift because that fruit cake was as hard as brick. So of course my sister kept the fruit cake for the next year’s celebration, boxed it in a trick box and gave it to another member of the family. This unopened Claxton Fruit Cake is still hard as a rock and continues to make the rounds through the Lenz family today.”
-John Lenz, Vice President
“My favorite holiday tradition is interacting with my mom during the Christmas season. I’m well into my 30s and she maintains the idea that there’s a Santa Clause. Once, we shopped together for my Christmas gift and I thanked her on the way to the car for my new jacket. She hurriedly stuck the jacket in her trunk, turned to me, and said, “Oh, you want a jacket? Well, we see if Santa thinks you’ve been good.” Without saying another word, she got in her car and drove off. Sure enough, on Christmas morning, the jacket came wrapped, “To Michael, From Santa Claus.””
-Michael Killeen, Vice President of Marketing
“When I was a child, my mother would decorate our tree from the inside out. She would position toys, treats, and decorations on the limbs right next to the trunk, working her way up to the top. Then, when she was done, my sister and I could lie down on the floor, and look up through the tree from the bottom. It was magical sight for a little kid. I’ll never forget that, or all the other little ways Mom made our holidays so special.”
-Cameron Spivey, Creative Director
“The Cushing family tradition around the holiday season is pretty simple: spend Christmas Eve together! Whether that’s congregating with extended family at my parent’s house in Poncey-Highland, or taking a trip down to Fairhope Alabama to visit grandparents, we always make the time to be together.”
-Rachel Cushing, Media Manager
“Because of my family’s Italian heritage, Christmas Eve – with the Feast of the Seven Fishes – has always been a favorite night. While the menu has evolved over the years, it has variously meant appetizers of shrimp cocktail, fried smelts, fried calamari and mozzarella in carozza – an egg-dipped, Italian-style fried cheese sandwich – followed by pasta in a red sauce of mussels, clams, shrimp, stuffed calamari and maybe a lobster claw or two. The final course is one for which my son, a fourth-generation Italian-American, pines: baked stuffed lobster with a crabmeat stuffing. As you can see, food has always been very important in my family, especially around the holidays.”
-John Manasso, Media Relations Manager
“Every year since my three cousins and I were born, my Nana bought us each an ornament to hang on the family tree.This year, she is giving all of our ornaments to us to have for our own trees. I’m sure it will be interesting to see the progression of myself through my grandmother’s eyes and the fortunate feeling of being able to continue to make memories with her.”
-Chelsea Hoag, Media Coordinator
“After I came back from my first semester of college, my parents decided they were too tired to make the usual Christmas feast. Little did we know that out of that fatigue would come a new Whitted family tradition. Now, instead of the traditional holiday smorgasbord, we cook finger foods! Every year I look forward to the fruit trays, chicken tenders, fancy cheeses, meatballs, and empanadas.”
-Ivan Whitted II, Account Coordinator
Meet Ben Barnes, Lenz Art Director and the architect behind our new website.
We sat down with one of our favorite design gurus for a closer look into his creative process and what inspired him to create the new LenzMarketing.com.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on the media world, you’ve heard about the rise of content marketing; a fun, unique way of building an audience through the distribution of relevant marketing information in the form of specialized content. Lenz has been hip to the content marketing game since the beginning, but when we see an opportunity to grow and improve – we take it. This is where Chelsea Hoag comes in.
Chelsea is our newest Lenzer, joining the staff in late July. With her she brings a strong editorial background and a passion for videography, a skill that she’s already put to use in her short time with us, most recently for the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
To wrap up one of the most successful festival weekends ever, Chelsea produced a final video that showcased the festival’s visitors, sponsors, participants, and volunteers. Chelsea’s vision led her to the Decatur streets with her camera where she aimed to capture the magical spirit of the festival. We think she succeeded.
Take a look: