I have two parents who modeled for me the internal power that comes with delaying gratification.
I don't know if this stemmed from their own experiences as being one of five or six children in their respective families of origin. I don't know if it stemmed from both being brought up relatively poor. I don't know if it was because of their Catholic faith. I don't know if they simply have personalities that made delaying gratification easier.
Whatever the reason, my parents modeled an ability to look long-term, weigh decisions carefully, and not get everything they may have wanted when they wanted it. My brother and I did not get everything we wanted when we wanted it. My parents were pretty good at saying "no."
Now, at the time, I hated this. I didn't understand why we couldn't get call-waiting back when that was a newfangled feature on landlines. I didn't understand why we couldn't get MTV when all my friends had it. I didn't understand why my parents wouldn't buy me the name brand shoes I wanted.
But my parents lived within their means and valued education over all else. One of the greatest gifts they gave me as a result of delaying our familial gratification was a college education with no loans or debt for any of us.
Because they said no, as an adult I appreciated and respected delaying my gratification. This doesn't mean I LIKED it. Delaying gratification sucks, more or less.
When D and I got engaged, I told him we would not marry until he finished his master's degree. He had been sitting on his thesis for a while, and I was determined he would finish it. So we set our wedding date 18 months out. We didn't get an apartment together but lived in our parents' homes to save money for a down payment on a house. We decided to live only on his salary and get whatever house we could afford on that so that we could save everything I made.
All of these decisions were efforts in delaying gratification for a bigger and hopefully better outcome. If he completed his master's, he would hopefully make more money long term. It would hopefully provide more stability. If we lived with our parents, we could save more money for a down-payment. If we lived on one salary, it would make it possible for us to save a lot and me to stay home with our children without too much adjustment down the line if we ever had a family.
But delaying gratification means not getting exactly what you want and definitely not when you want it. Living with our parents was not fun for two madly in love people who just wanted to have lots of sex with each other. Living on one salary meant we had to budget and give up getting material things we might have gotten on two salaries. (But it did allow me to have the money to put towards a master's degree.)
Ultimately, being taught to delay my gratification made me a person who is able to take a long view and not get my panties in a twist if I can't have stuff instantaneously.
It makes it easier for me to not lose my mind by not having Thanksgiving (and likely Christmas) with extended family (or even closer family).
Delaying gratification actually gives me a greater sense of gratefulness for all the other holidays I have completely taken for granted because we just did those without thinking. Being together for Thanksgiving and Christmas is just.what.we.did.
There is an ache because we can't do the "normal," but that ache is also what drives my sense of thankfulness. If we decided to all be together, I wouldn't have that ache, which means I wouldn't have that poignant feeling of appreciating the abundance of the past and hoping that next year, perhaps because we have erred on the side of extreme caution, we can all safely be together again without anyone missing.