“No gifts this year” seemed the rational proclamation, since all of us acknowledged we had every necessity in excess; much more than we required, and everything we wanted beyond what we needed.
This yearly policy was clearly stated, and yearly the rule was ignored or broken, the gifts wrapped, and placed under the tree bound up with its sparkling bobbles and chains.
But this Christmas our privilege seemed more pronounced, and the needs of others seemed more keen – so many without house or home, and we with so much.
The holiday mantra was therefore revised: “only re-gifted items please ” which seemed a reasonable compromise. So the presents were chosen, decorated and distributed without great ceremony or expectation.
But I must admit, with a touch of guilty joy, when I undid that unassuming package, I loved my gift. I could not tell why, but it gave me great delight.
After the bubbling stovetop vessels ceased their chatter, the puddings slowly steamed and hidden fruits gratefully consumed; after the golden-roasted bird was suitably slurped, the wine bottles drained, the glittering papers dutifully recycled and the requisite carols harmoniously cooed, our re-gifted gifts were packed up and almost forgotten.
That starry night, I turned my little gift in my hands and wondered why it pleased me so much. It was not valuable or rare or sought after – in fact it was a bit odd. The magic of the gift was in the giver – and that the giver knew me. It was the proof that I was known, understood, and accepted with all my faults and foibles.
That was the gift.