community columns

Mr. Henry and the immigrant shopkeeper


It is Thanksgiving once again, and across our country, millions of people are getting ready for a week of celebration. Regrettably, for many, Thanksgiving is principally a pre-season holiday, something we do to get in shape for Christmas. We eat, we sleep, we watch football, we shop, and we do not stop until January. Yep, been there, done that, and got the T-shirt! As I have matured in my years, I have faithfully become increasingly more appreciative of the Thanksgiving holiday and its real meaning; to focus on being thankful. I suggest that author Gladys Stern was spot on when she said, “Silent gratitude is not much good to anyone. That is why I work at cultivating a heart of gratitude and I make an effort to express gratitude continually.” Although I genuinely have a heart of gratitude and strive to maintain a thankful and appreciative outlook throughout the year, I often fail miserably at verbalizing my thankfulness!

Although I am incredibly fortunate to be on the right side of the dirt, have good health, plenty of food and shelter, financial independence and a loving and supporting family, I often want more yesterday! Instead of feeling incredibly blessed, I am stricken with the disease! Perhaps you may have experienced the symptoms that usually begin with the voice that whispers, “If I only had…”, I would feel better. We know that it is more beneficial to appreciate all that we have, instead of focusing on what we do not have. If we attach ourselves to how things should be, there is a good chance that we will have a lifetime of turmoil and suffering. In order to combat the disease, we follow the doctors’ and take our prescribed doses of the world’s best medication, gratitude! If we neglect the physicians’ orders, the easily curable disease will most likely kill us! Perhaps the words of wisdom from Matthew Henry and an immigrant shopkeeper will make us ponder just how powerful the “gratitude” medication is.

• After Matthew Henry, who lived in the 18th century, was robbed, he wrote the following in his diary: Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before. Second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

• The son of an immigrant shopkeeper came to his father complaining, “Dad, I don’t understand how you run this store. You keep your accounts payable in a cigar box, your accounts receivable is on the spindle, and all your cash is in the register. You are never going to know what all your profits are.” The immigrant shopkeeper, said to him, “Son, let me tell you something. When I arrived in this land, all I owned was the pants I was wearing. Now your sister is an art teacher, your brother is a doctor, and you are a CPA. Your mother and I own a house and a car, and this little store. Add that all up and subtract the pants and that is your profit.”

As I type these final words during this special time of year, I want to thank all of the incredible people at the Ponte Vedra Recorder for giving me the opportunity to express myself in my hometown newspaper. Moreover, a heartfelt thank you to those of you who enjoy reading my column. I do not take you for granted, as I work diligently to make these columns informative, thought provoking and entertaining. Finally, words do not adequately express my gratitude for those of you who took the time to send letters, e-mails, and make calls to the Recorder to share how much you enjoy reading my narratives. May your Thanksgiving provide you with the opportunity to reflect on how grateful you are for everything that you have in life and I hope that Mr. Henry and the immigrant shopkeeper’s words of wisdom resonate with you in a way that will empower you to become more grateful, which will bring the dreaded disease to its demise!

Harry Pappas Jr., CFP®, CDFA™

Managing Director-Investments

Certified Estate and Trust Specialist

Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

818 A1A N, Ste. 200

Ponte Vedra, Florida 32082


The use of the CDFA™ designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field.

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