Joanne Henry: Balancing business and the spirit of Christmas

I don’t believe Bernie Madoff is a fan of Christmas, but he could certainly play the Grinch. We’ve had many Grinches exposed in the last year. There are those who preyed upon first-time home-buyers leaving them without their down-payments or their dream of a home. There’s the woman from a Habitat of Humanity office who stole money and worse, stole trust. There’s the person who took my daughter’s wallet from her jacket at her new job last week. Do we sing about it?

The other night I watched the Christmas episode of ‘Glee’, that goofy musical about a modern high school glee club with their moral dilemmas and happy endings. Coach ‘Sue’, a perfect misunderstood miscreant, literally painted up her face and donned the hat of Grinch and cut down the Glee Club’s tree. She rigged Secret Santa to have every present delivered to her and when caught, stole them back from their waiting spot for deliveries to the homeless. If you know Glee, you know they did of course sing about it. And Sue was warmed.

I am admitting here that I personally have had business financial losses from those who were unable to pay and also, from someone who ‘took the money’. If I really embraced the spirt of Christmas, would I truly go caroling with love and goodwill to all? Love and joy come to — all of them? It’s easy to be generous in spirit to those less fortunate. Not nearly so simple to feel that way to those who have taken something from us and moved on. So I have to ask: am I doing what I say I will in this column – being authentic? Living my values?

I’ve chosen to make a living in the for-profit sector. We operate by rules of profit and loss – and law. Today, in fact, we’re updating our legal contracts here at the office and that’s a good thing. Tightening them up. We have obligations to each other, and to our families. It is right to hold people accountable in this world, and legal agreements are part of that.

Tonight, I am going caroling tonight at an elder care home, organized by a friend who is both charitable and good, someone I know who truly ‘turns the other cheek.’ It will be a hall of singers who take time from very busy lives to share with others. There will be no Grinch at this event. Not even a Grinch who would try to steal the happiness of others without taking one material thing. So, no matter what the day has been, no matter what the year, we will sing.

We sing because we know how fortunate we are, how lucky we are to be here, with each other.

This post was written byJoanne Henry and originally published onJoanne Henry’s Weblog.

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