Every year we do a study about Holiday consumer spending trends. You may have read about them on this blog. Some years people spend a little more, some a little less. It's easy to say it's all about the economy, but that isn't the complete answer. People are only consumers some of the time – and even then they do not even closely resemble a simple buying equation. They remain people with emotions and passions.

One trend is clear: people understand their brand choices have social and even spiritual consequences, and are re-examining some of the deeply held notions that underlie their brand loyalties and lifestyles – holiday greetings, festive celebrations, and gift-giving among them.

We all like to think about what we might receive at the holidays, and most of us are fortunate enough to take gifts themselves for granted. But, like so many things – our hearts beating, our planes flying, our buildings standing – we think little about them until they are lost. This is human, and it is normal. But it is not good.

We believe that this holiday season presents an opportunity to pause in our lives. It is a time to stop, look around, and think of all we take for granted. To pause and feel the humility that only comes from unspeakable gratitude: to those who, for example, walked away from home and into battle for their country, and will never walk back home.

This year we made donations in our clients' honor to Homes for Our Troops, an organization committed to helping those who have selflessly given in their service, and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries. By raising donations of money, building materials, and professional labor, they coordinate the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. The finished home is then given to the veteran at no cost to them or their families.

So as the year comes to an end, the Brand Keys team pauses to express our gratitude to our followers and supporters too. We wish you and yours the very best of the season and a happy, healthy, and successful New Year.