Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2023

Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2023

The fall is rushing past us. This week there is hoarfrost on the leaves in the morning that lasts almost until noon, and I am always reminded of the icy little fairies from Fantasia when the leaves glitter like this. It’s beautiful if you can slow down and look; it’s magical if you can forget how cold your nose is. 

Thanksgiving is almost here! I know the roots of Thanksgiving are not great. However, I love the idea of a time to give thanks: a thanksgiving, a friendsgiving, a time that is just about food and having enough to share. There are no gifts to make things complicated. We just eat and cook. These are two of my favorite things. 

Volante Design is gearing up for another Black Friday, which is a season of sales that are meant to hold us through the winter. Like farmers everywhere, we are looking to stock up by putting potatoes into the root cellar. It’s always a flurry of activity, a lot of planning, a lot of doing, and hopefully it’s a lot of potatoes: a season’s harvest. 

At this harvest season, as in so many these last few years, it's hard to be insulated from the painful stuff going on all the time in the world. Akria Kurosama writes, “to be an artist means never to avert your eyes.” But he died in 1998, before we were all online all the time. How can we keep making art? How can we keep doing hard new things? Bo Burnham has it more right for me: “a little bit of everything all of the time?” So how do we think or even breathe with the onslaught of world news? How do we slow down and create some room, some connection? How do we give thanks without closing our eyes and pretending we don’t live in the world we live in? Can we have both stark realism and gratitude? 

There’s an argument to be made that we should all be working on how to make seawater into potable water for free, building homes for our unsheltered masses, or figuring out how to actually recycle. The list of what we could do, perhaps should do, is so long that it can feel meaningless. And like  nicely The Good Place so eloquently shows us, any move we make can have unseen problematic consequences. So what do we do? How do we hold gratitude? How do we not despair? Logically despair is always a sure bet, but what about the modest things we can do? 

The most meaningful thing I read recently was Amanda Palmer’s post saying something like, “I feel like we are not ok. Are you OK? Please post in the comments. I and others are reading.” The idea that she was reading, and responding, was so refreshing. The idea that we had better be listening, better be making the world a little warmer in this tiny detail, felt real to me. This moment was real. This moment made me feel a smidge less out of touch. A tiny moment of belonging. 

What we do at Volante Design, when we can, is to make people feel extraordinary. Maybe even just a smidge. This mission stems from the belief that we are all capable of the extraordinary. Like mutants who have an ability that seems odd but when put in the right circumstances is the perfect plot twisting conclusion to save the day. When we get our weird mutant ability lined up with a purpose and a mission that works for us and those around us, stuff clicks.  When we say it is our mission to build a world of fashion where ordinary people can feel extraordinary this is what we mean. I am grateful to each one of our customers who have helped us to believe ourselves extraordinary. You help us build Volante Design. 

I am so grateful to our team, who are wry, and witty, and irreverent, and kind, and caring. Each member of our team is with us because they, in their own way, care about and relate to our mission. Lord knows we are not the perfect company, but we are trying very earnestly to do what we can. 

In Micheal Ende’s children’s book Momo (the name of my first cat), there is a character who sweeps the streets. Momo asks him how he manages to do all this work and not lose hope. It seems like such a big task: when he gets done with a street, he starts the next one. When he gets done with all the streets, the first one is so dirty again that he starts over. He says he sweeps the part right in front of him, and in short he’s there working at the massive task one small step at a time. This is what I strive for at Volante and in life. To be as good as possible, to make the right call with all the info I can get, with all the knowledge that I have today. To move forwards, to do the next right thing (yes that is from Frozen).

So thank you. We are humbled by your support of our mission, our vision, our small company, our team, our families. You make it happen. 

Happy Thanksgiving. May you have enough to share this season. 

Thank you for reading. 

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