We live in a world of short sound bites, tweets, and gross over-generalizations reducing everything to the lowest common denominator. In our desire to simplify everything, dumb it down, and “just tell me the one thing,” have we somehow lost the essence of the Holiday Spirit?

Are the Holidays becoming simply shopping, food, and time off?

If this is our definition, it’s easy to understand how Thanksgiving Friday is now Black Friday and Thanksgiving itself is now just “Turkey Day,” or worse, “Gray Thursday.” We read with disbelief how some shoppers gave up their Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family just so they could wait in line at the stores. Is this any way to celebrate our National Holiday?

George Washington set aside a Thanksgiving Day for Americans to take the time to appreciate what they had, acknowledge its value, and, regardless of religion, give thanks for our freedoms, self-determination and bountiful blessings. He thought we needed the annual reminder so we wouldn’t take these blessings as a given and not notice when they began to erode away. So we ask you, is a thankless definition of Thanksgiving in our best interests?

When great societies fall, we have to wonder if their people saw it coming. The Roman Empire stood for over 400 years, controlled the known western world, united it under a common language, built an efficient infrastructure, and ruled it with laws we use today. What happened to cause its demise? Was it the Vandals, the Huns, the Roman leadership, or was it the people themselves who started the downward spiral? Did they start taking it all for granted, grow to be apathetic, and become distracted by shortsighted materialism?

As we enter the Holiday Season, let’s practice the Real Holiday Spirit of generosity, love, family, and gratitude for what we enjoy. Let’s remember that this time of year has a deeper meaning than just eating, shopping and taking the day off work. Let’s put the “Thanks” back into Thanksgiving and the love back into our heritage holidays. As Americans, we need to have an annual reminder of what we hold dear so we don’t lose it. Now is the perfect time to reacquaint ourselves with the true meaning of The Holidays!

If we really are so impatient that we need just the one thing that sums up the Holiday Spirit, the one word, the shortest sound bite, then it would have to be “Appreciation.” Webster defines appreciation as a feeling of being grateful for something, an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something. Let’s make that “something” be appreciation for friends, family, and community; appreciation for our heritage, our national wealth, our freedoms, and our very lives. Think of it as an investment in a future that contains and perserves all these things that we hold dear.

If George Washington was alive today, would he be proud of the way we celebrate The Holidays? Would his reason for a national day of thanks to kick off the holiday season still be intact? The Real Holiday Spirit starts with each one of us and begins on Thanksgiving Day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we carried that joy of gratitude with us every day?

We want to take this time to appreciate you, our readers and our audiences. We are grateful to have the opportunity to share our experiences with so many aspiring entrepreneurs. And we wish you all the happiest of Holidays with your family and friends in our great nation of diversity, opportunity, and abundance.  Make it your intention to have Really Happy Holidays!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact