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Who buys a giraffe?

We coined a new term in our household: Giraffe money. It’s a synonym for crazy rich.

not our giraffe

The etymology of giraffe money comes from a neighborhood newsletter/magazine that highlights a local family. In the newest issue, one detail was that this family bought a giraffe for the local zoo through their family foundation.

“While most families have nicknames for the animals at the zoo,” the story reads, “few families earn the honor of actually officially naming an animal.”

I read this at the table over breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Rather than make me thankful for the giraffe at the zoo that I visit with my family, it made me want to fling my toast across the room.

It made me want to vote for Bernie and personally revive the Occupy Wall Street movement after I finished my morning coffee.

Who does this? Who buys a giraffe?

This is its own level of rich, like “all of the family cars are interchangeable” rich.

In our family budget, the annual zoo pass gets its own line item.

In our new house we have a constantly growing list of home improvement projects and upgrades we’d like to see. The basement. The kitchen. The garage. Lights. Fans. You name it.

The previous owners lived here for 55 years, and there hasn’t been upgrades in decades. When we moved in we took stock of all of the aging items we’d like to modernize. We have a Google Doc of projects we’d like to start on the house.

Now we have a shorthand for how we can’t do it all: We don’t have that giraffe money.

And that’s OK. We have enough, way more than enough.

Today is Black Friday, when we instantly move from being thankful for what we have to buying all the things we don’t actually need. Every five seconds I’m getting a push notification on my phone of a Black Friday sale.

Because of this, Black Friday is the perfect time to practice gratitude. It’s easy to be thankful when you’re surrounded by turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie.

It’s harder to focus on what you’re grateful for when you’re surrounded by advertising and material wants and comparisons.

Later on Thanksgiving Day, I read something that sticks with me about calming a craving mind: Imagine yourself getting something you really want and then visualizing yourself letting it go, to remember the things you already have. It sounds cheesy, but it can trigger gratitude rather than cravings.

“Our society often conditions and encourages us to look outside of ourselves for happiness,” writes Carley Hauck. “The notion that this moment is not okay as it is encourages wanting minds and overconsumption.”

Instead, coming back to a sense of internal completeness can remedy feeling like your happiness is defined by external stuff. Or giraffes.

There’s always opportunity to compare and despair, whether on Instagram, Facebook vacation albums or neighborhood newsletters.

We all have a choice. We can focus on giraffe money, or on gratitude.