The best gift

by Penny M

I must have festivitis.

It’s a seasonal virus – let’s be frank, everything these days is viral. I feel like I went to bed in 2011 and woke to discover that 2012 was a dream and my resolution is still written on rice paper left over from decorating the Christmas cake. I still haven’t sent the cards, done any shopping or even admitted to myself another year will run out before I get over it.

“Tis the season to be jolly tra la la la la la la la la la!”

I won’t bore you with my light-hearted poem about jingling tills and Santas on every corner. The subject matter pales against the follies of so-called leaders using pothole repair funds to splurge on new wives or appease old ones. While sensible people e-file, cough up for the TV licence and plan one-gift parties, others run up credit limits, buy whatever they want and jet away with no intention of returning to pay for their tickets.

Where is the joy in giving to the ‘haves’ when the ‘have-nots’ can’t give at all? It doesn’t seem fair that I should have to dip into my retirement savings to give to the not-so-greedy needy when a major part of my income fills the traditional stockings that lie at the end of the beds of reason (and Santa didn’t put them there).

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving. There’s something eternally fulfilling about clothing a needy child or warming a belly with hope. The epitome of sadness is a pavement full of empty hats.

But there is cheer here somewhere. I discovered a secret. Somebody once said, ‘The best things in life are free.’ I’m inclined to agree. Money, whether given or received, can turn the humblest of hearts. It can lie, make or break. Wealth is a matter of opinion. True treasure grows in the poorest places; without small change, it makes the richest difference. Pure love is not for sale, yet each of us has the capacity to give it. It’s on everybody’s wish list. There is nothing more precious than knowing you are loved; that someone chooses to give you their undivided attention for a second. If you are fortunate enough to have received this gift, it can never be stolen or taxed.

Festive occasions are laced with hypocrisy for those who suffer hugs for hand-outs. Genuine goodies are not reserved for special days. No need for wraps and trimmings. It’s simple. Live for the moment and love every minute. It’s the best gift.

Now where’s that rice paper …?

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