Yeah, yeah. Big deal. Call me a Grinch because I'm not a great believer in Christmas. Far too selfishly consumeristic for me; much too patently hypocritical, and too given to mindboggling financial and other excesses. And too, the true essence of Christmas, at least as those faux-pious Christian types like to tell it, has, in my humble view, been hopelessly lost and replaced by greed, greed and more greed from a capitalist class hell bent on extracting and wringing the last dollar from the hands of gullible consumers and stupid "instant" binge shoppers. I also hate the pot-bellied gluttons who focus of food, food, and still more food. Christmas for them is a license to gleefully pig out.
So with that in mind, I decided to be my Grinchy self and offer my eight Christmas gifts to all and sundry for less than a penny.
1. The gift of love. Yep. That which is the opposite of hate. And no, I don't mean the "beasts with two backs," carnal jump-in-the-sack, humping kind of love, but a genuine love for ALL people no matter their station in life. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or persons. A good place to start can be your love for children, the poor, the homeless, and the powerless -- the least among us. The kinda folks Jesus Christ identified with, ate with and hung out with. At Christmas time, if only for a brief moment - You can give this gift freely and inexpensively. It costs less than a penny. So if you really want to really celebrate a true Christmas then give the Gift of Love.
2. The gift of charity. The practice of being benevolent, kind, giving and sharing. The religious concept of unlimited love and kindness. So, reach out to the less fortunate during this festive season. Genuinely make an effort to be charitable to those who have little or nothing. Give a warm, gently used coat to keep out the cold from a poor, homeless individual, for example. Food is always welcomed. But give from your heart and not for a "photo op" or "selfie" to get bragging rights on Facebook. Or to claim that you're better than your equally selfish and feckless, bombastic and idiotic friends. Reach out to your neighbor to see how he or she is doing. Then help in any way that you can. Charity is not measured by the volume of the gift with the way it's given and why its given -- no matter the size.
3. The gift of a tolerance. The practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. Nowadays intolerance has reached fever pitch. Nowhere is this more evident than in our national political discourse. Hatred for those with different sexual preferences and orientations; religious bigotry, racism and violent language in high places; individual and group discrimination is all part of the disease of today's intolerance. Intolerance sparks violence and brutality fueled and driven by hatred of "the other." This Christmas let us give the gift of tolerance -- it costs less than a penny. And it will help heal a very divided, suspicious and angry nation. It's the best way to man friends and to underscore the meaning of Christmas.
4. The gift of a smile. Everywhere and in every place, screw faces scowling faces, and angry faces lined with worry, anxiety, and confusion. Among humans beings, smiling is an expression denoting pleasure, sociability, happiness, or amusement. Lower animals don't do smiling. But these days, we go about our daily lives and forget to smile. Yeah, we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We distrust EVERYONE. We think that EVERYBODY is out to get us. So we forget how to smile and laugh. Health science says that smiling and laughing does a body good and has great effects on mood, outlook, and behavior. So this Christmas do something that does not cost even one penny - smile. Maybe you'll get accustomed to it and who knows? You may even like it!
5. The gift of friendship. Not "friends with benefits;" not "dry weather friends," not friends that only know you when they need something from you. No, I mean genuine friendship. Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. This Christmas give the gift of friendship and mean it. Besides, it will cost you less than a penny.
6. The gift of understanding. Like tolerance, modern day humans often fall short when it comes to understanding, especially when we deal with others, not of our race, class, social grouping or religious persuasion. An understanding is the limit of a conceptualization. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior. It's very easy to not understand others, label others, and pass judgment on entire groups and races. Today, all you have to do is listen to our political discourse of "we against them" or "them against us." A lack of understanding perpetuates ignorance, grooms and grows suspicion, making us insensitive to others. For this Christmas, learn to understand others, even when you disagree -- after all, they're human like you too! And they too very often fall short in the understanding category!
7. The gift of compassion. Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a strong desire to help. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of others. The Christmas Story is littered with examples of compassion. The First Child practiced it every day during his earthly life. We could can try to emulate Him. Have you practiced a little compassion lately? If you're like most people you may have been weighed on the human scale and found wanting on this score. So this Christmas try a little compassion. It's not going to cost you anything and the benefits will only make you a better person.
8. The gift of a happy disposition. Too many of us are grouches personified. We go around making others unhappy. We nag, complain, gripe, whine, and criticize for no good reason. Heck, this is bound to take the joy out of any Christmas. So to you, grouches listen up! Just think of poor ole Mary giving birth to the Baby Jesus in an unclean manger surrounded by the sweaty animal smells of cattle and sheep pee, stinking feces all about, and you think you have it hard? So this Christmas do make an effort to develop a happy disposition. I know it will be hard but try. What do you have to lose? And look on the bright side; you're going to gain a whole lot of friends in the process who just love to be around happy people!
So there you have it my Christmas Gifts to you for less than a penny. May you have a Merry Christmas and wonderful 2019.