Remember when Halloween was about carving pumpkins, roasting the seeds, making your costume and trick or treating with a pillow case instead of some store bought thing? 

I remember when Thanksgiving was two full days of kitchen chaos that culminated in a meal of relatively simple culinary delights. But because we only experienced it once a year it was special. The turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the sweet potato bake with marshmallows. Yum.

Remember when you wouldn’t see or even hear a Christmas anything until the day after Thanksgiving?  The stores would explode with Christmas lights and decorations and music and Santa and manger scenes. And for a few weeks you reveled in the excitement and anticipation? It was magic.

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Today, when you walk into any mall, drugstore, grocer or  Wal Mart, you are bombarded with candy, candles, santas, pumpkins, skeletons, orange, black, red, green (which, btw, do NOT go together).  Spooky noises and Christmas carols compete for air space. It’s no wonder more and more people keep their lights up on the house year-round. It’s disturbing.

Scarcity and exclusivity are incredible marketing tools that we rarely use these days. 

Consider the asparagus. I was a middle child and always seeking attention – imagine that – and needing to be individual, it became my vegetable.  It came into season always around my birthday. As if it appeared just to celebrate with me. Fresh, slender, tender stalks, lovingly cut on an angle and stir fried with sliced mushrooms and water chestnuts in a butter sauce.  Thanks mom for that memory.

Today I can get asparagus year round. Forced to grow in an unnatural environment.  Consequently the stalks you get out of season are big and thick and tough and durable and lack the earthy flavor.  

Now anyone can join a credit union. Does that make it less special? 

If there was a club, that everyone could join, and everyone did, is it still a club?

Nope. And that’s a problem. 

Our field of membership was our differentiator. As many expanded to a live, work, worship description, the temptation to be all things to all people was too great. 

Now we can have whatever we want, whenever we want, from whomever we want. 

Is this the American dream? 

As we celebrate International Credit Union week, we need to remember that common bond, a common purpose, is the glue that holds us together. It’s not our free checking or convenient car loans – those are commodities. It’s about a sense of belonging – feeling special – something you cannot get just anywhere. 

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