The Independent Market Observer

12/20/13 – Gratitudes for the Season

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

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This entry was posted on Dec 20, 2013 8:30:11 AM

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As I wind down into the Christmas week, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I’m grateful for.

Family Day

Yesterday was a personal family holiday, marking the day five years ago when we formally became Jackson’s parents at the giving and receiving ceremony in Da Nang, Vietnam. We don’t really do much to celebrate it—what with Christmas and everything else going on—but we do make a point of sitting down and reflecting on how lucky we all have been. As I was snuggling with Jackson last night, I told him that I couldn’t ask for a better son, and he replied that he couldn’t ask for a better home. Pretty good for a five-year-old, and it’s my responsibility to make sure he always feels that way.

Cold Medicine

On a less elevated level, I am profoundly grateful for cold medicine. Since we brought Jackson home, the little petri dish, I’ve suffered from brutal colds every year around Thanksgiving. This year was no exception, as you may remember if you saw the most recent Market Thoughts video. Every year, I discover new cold medicines and more effective ways to use them. We don’t fully appreciate just how much better these medicines, to say nothing of aspirin or similar drugs, make our lives.

My Snow Blower

Living in New England, you know you will get dumped on. Years ago, I had to dig out the exterior stairs and deck of a second-floor apartment I lived in for more than a decade. One of the happiest days of my life was when I bought a condo and could look out the window to see someone else clearing the snow. Unfortunately, that went away when we bought a house, but the snow blower is almost as good. Not only does it help me clear my own property, it also lets me help my neighbors, particularly a wonderful older couple across the street. It makes my life easier, and it allows me to be a good neighbor. Can’t ask for much more than that.


We lost our last cat, Putter, in February. Last weekend, we were adopted by two new kittens, Rooney (sorry, John!) and Charlie. It has been such a joy to watch them play and chase each other around. It’s been an even bigger joy to watch Jackson play gently with them, showing in a new way what a great little boy he is. Charlie is actually the spitting image of Putter, which is comforting, while Rooney is a black and white long-haired fuzzball. I will admit I’m not wild about them running up my leg and back as I sit at my desk, but it’s worth it.

Healthy, Happy Grandparents

Nora and I are older parents, so we’re amazingly fortunate that our own parents are all alive and healthy. I’m so glad Jackson has the chance to know, and love, his grandparents directly. Everyone’s coming to stay with us for Christmas, to spend time together and share the special joy that small children exude this time of year. Family in the abstract is wonderful, but it’s this kind of intergenerational together time that I hope Jackson will remember for the rest of his life.

My Job

Last but not least, I get to do interesting work with good people. Commonwealth remains a remarkable place, and the opportunity I have to work with our advisors and my colleagues—one of the nicest groups of people on the planet—is something I find myself grateful for on a daily basis. The ability to spend my days thinking about how best to help our advisors and their clients is a rare gift.

I could go on for pages, but these are some of the more timely items. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope next week and this holiday season are filled with family, joy, and things to be grateful for. My family and I are incredibly blessed, and we plan to spend next week celebrating that.

Happy holidays!

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