I'm not a great believer in Christmas. Too consumeristic, too hypocritical and too given to excesses. And too, the true essence of Christmas has been hopelessly lost and replaced by greed, greed and more greed from a capitalist class hell bent on extracting the last dollar from gullible consumers and binge shoppers. I also hate the gluttons who focus of food, food and still more food.
So with that in mind I decided to offer my eight Christmas gifts for less than a penny.
1. The gift of love. That which is the opposite of hate. But not the carnal jump-in-the-sack kind of love, but a genuine love for ALL mankind. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or persons. A good place to start can be a love for children, the poor and powerless -- the least among us. This time of year, if only of a brief moment in time -- we can give this gift freely and inexpensively. It costs less than a penny. So if you really want to really celebrate Christmas then give the Gift of Love.
2. The gift of charity. The practice of being benevolent, giving and sharing. The religious concept of unlimited love and kindness. Reach out to the less fortunate during this season. Genuinely make an effort to be charitable to those who have little or nothing. A warm, gently used coat to keep out the cold from a poor, homeless individual. Foods is always welcomed but give from your heart and not for a "photo op." Reach out to your neighbor to see how he or she is doing.
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 orientation; religious bigotry, individual discrimination is all part of the disease of 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.
4. The gift of a smile. Screw faces, scowling faces and faces lined with worry, anxiety and confusion. Among humans smiling is an expression denoting pleasure, sociability, happiness, or amusement. But these days, we go about our daily lives and forget to smile. We carry the world on our shoulders. Health science says that it 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.
5. The gift of friendship. Not "friends with benefits;" not "dry weather friends," but 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. Just 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 Christmas, learn to understand others -- after all they're human too!
7. The gift of compassion. Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another. Have you practiced a little compassion lately? If you're like most people you may have come up short 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 reason. Heck, this is bound to take the joy out of Christmas. Just think of poor ole Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by the smell of cattle and sheep pee, stinking feces" 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 on the plus 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 for less than a penny. May you have a wonderful 2016.