I struggle with the Christmas holiday, and have struggled for a significant portion of my adult life, and probably spend a solid month of every holiday season deep in thought about the how and why this is. I wouldn’t say its holiday depression per se, but rather a forced very careful, personal, and intimate reflection of the world around us.
While I’m openly not deeply religious, I do believe in the fundamental spirit of Christianity and its root belief system in the Christmas holiday. Where things go wrong for me for starts with “black Friday” and its resulting mayhem. Yes, this is the blackest day of the year. The fact that we live in a society that has so easily been manipulated by corporate greed driving us to spend frivolously at the expense of religious meaning is disgusting. We (broadly) have succeeded in losing sight of why we are here.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to gift giving at all, but believe it should come with some purposeful meaning – not because it was the deal of the week or the season. Add up the cost of stuff in the average American “junk drawer”…we all have them. They need to be emptied, and not refilled ever again. While globalized economics of trade and commerce keep the world turning, that junk drawer is what has caused Americans hundreds of thousands of jobs, and gone on to leach financial balance from our economy. We’ve done this to ourselves in succumbing to corporate greed.
Now, I don’t want to delve into doomsday conspiracy on what should be a warm holiday Blog post, so let’s look at the flip side…
Having the means to give is a gift, and my view is that if we’re fortunate enough to have this gift, it should be re-gifted with as much impact as possible. This act, done at any scale, might be considered social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, or impact investing…all intertwined and related means to sculpt the world around us, and we’re fortunate to have some do-gooders within the corporate world that are indeed making a positive impact. We all have this social responsibility, and frankly its the reason why we are here…to keep humanity moving forward. If we don’t, we go extinct. That’s basic ecology.
So, I would encourage all of my readers to consider the gift of giving for a cause. The obligatory $50 to a telemarket charity doesn’t’ count. Get out there and make a contribution that could change someone’s life. Even during the darkest and most difficult of times I’ve faced as an entrepreneur, this is the thing I’ve stood firmly behind. Someday, maybe I’ll share the stories of my own circumstances during times that I’ve stepped in to help. They all came with no regret, and were as much a gift to me in helping to press forward, as they were to the recipient or cause.
This holiday season – skip the junk drawer. You’ll have no regrets, and will be rewarded through the holiday season and far, far beyond.