Why My Holiday Begins with Washing the Walls

by placers on December 9, 2019 in Outside Insights


Every December since 1993, I take my mother to lunch on her birthday for two to three hours of uninterrupted time. Just her and I catching up on life, sharing stories, and enjoying each other’s company.

In preparing for this year’s birthday lunch, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the woman she is and the lessons she has to share. I’d like to use this Outside Insights to honor my mother and bring her lessons to all of you.

Meet Sally…

  • The first thing worth noting about Sally is her energy level and youthful glow – to her, age is truly just a number. To this day, she walks and wins 5k races because she wants to add to her prized collection of medals. The rest of us cannot keep up with her (and trust us, we are forced to try).
  • Sally fills her days with the things that bring her joy – family, friends, causes she’s passionate about, etc. She doesn’t make time for the things (or people, for that matter) that don’t bring her joy.
  • We all know love – Sally is To her family, her husband, and anyone else that she embraces. As a kid, all I remember is being safe, loved, nurtured, and fully supported.
  • My mom is one of the best leaders I know. She ran a tight ship and had high expectations – and I’m a better man because of it. While I never went without the necessities, if I wanted Levi’s over Wranglers or Nikes over sneakers from Sears, I would need to earn it. And I did.
  • Girlfriend was one hell of an entrepreneur. Sally worked a second job at Pennies folding clothes so my family could start the original Placers. Her Sunday nights consisted of crunching numbers while running payroll. Together, my mom and dad took an idea and built Placers into Delaware’s leading staffing provider.
  • Every year leading up to the holidays, Sally would wash the walls of our home until they were spotless. Everything was cleaned. It was her ritual and you better not get in her way.


We can all learn a lot from Sally. So, here are my calls to action for you this holiday season:


1) Call someone you love or care about. If it’s been a while since you’ve spoken to them, be the one who makes the first effort. You don’t have to talk long – but make that connection.

2) Take a look around. You have a lot to be thankful for. Strive to express gratitude every single day: for the big things, the small things that are easy to overlook, and the blessings in disguise. Remember that every flat tire is a chance to pause and watch the sunset or make a new connection with a stranger. We have the power to choose.

3) Holidays are about people and the traditions that represent them. Not about things. Washing walls means more to me than any gift ever could. Remember your traditions. Pass them down to your children. Make new ones.

4) Honor your mother. If you have the privilege – give her a call and thank her for everything. Take her out to lunch. Share her lessons with others.


Do you have an impactful memory or story to share about your mother, family, or a holiday tradition? Feel free to send me an email. I’d love to hear about it.


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