What Trumps the Holidays

I am exhausted.  Yes, the holidays surely have something to do about it. Why?  I am not quite sure. They are supposed to be a respite, a time to share with friends and family, a time to relax.  They are not.

Uber- like runs to the airport.  Excruciating trips, posing as pre and post-holiday fun-filled frolics to the mall with half the western hemisphere.  Holiday parties with people of all ilk you have never met before. They are holiday pre-requisites, along with too much food, egg nog, and a strange perversion for little colored lights strewn everywhere, as if we all are attempting to collectively say happy holidays to the astronauts laboring away on the International Space Station.  Okay, now that I think about it, I am sure I know why I am exhausted.  Excessive displays of goodwill are draining me.  They shouldn’t.

They shouldn’t have to be mandatory acts of goodwill acted out once each year cramming everything thoughtful into a year-end push to redemption.  Shouldn’t we try to foster goodwill all of the time?  Maybe, that is why I am so happy that my job with the Greater Impact Foundation.  Its mission focuses on seeking out those social impact enterprises like Sistemsa Biobolsa in Mexico, Eco-Fuels Africa in Uganda and Persistent Energy Group in Ghana year round; organizations founded on the concept that goodwill focused properly can not only solve endemic problems, they can also become sustainable profitable enterprises.  Doing that is a full time gig.  So, the end of the year holiday contrition, celebration and goodwill seems less necessary for me, even though I still like the gift giving. 

This  season I bookended the holidays with trips to meet current and potential new GIF partners.  For me, doing this keeps the holidays in perspective.  The one already completely included Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala in seven days to meet four enterprises, two new which seem very promising.  Short sojourns like this are chaotic.  In and out of airports dealing with immigration and customs in each, long road trips, often on difficult terrain, meetings that frequently run into the night, constant note taking to capture what is going on before everything blurs and runs together.  But, coming across the potential opportunity to help marginalized indigenous Mayan women was invigorating.  Renewing our relationship with the American Nicaraguan Foundation and Food for the Poor proved that patience works.  I did not need the holiday incentive to love this engagement.

The next trip in about two weeks, which requires extensive prep is Thailand (one stop), India (four stops) and Ghana (one stop) are equally hectic and further complicated by extreme long distance travel.  Unlike Central America, travelling across the dateline twice in a short period takes its toll.  I do not care what the worldwide road warriors claim.  So, there is a lot going on. But my expectations have not changed and the idea that I can carry the well-intentioned holiday goodwill even further, well into the new year, is a blessing.

I am not saying that working for GIF is anything at all like the goodwill and good times of the holiday season regardless of how they exhaust me.  What I am saying is that it is better.