‘Isn’t it marvellous that the Royal Family only give each other one small gift?” said my friend the other day, before adding: “So classy.”
Meanwhile, another friend posted on Facebook that he and his partner no longer “do” cards, and instead purchase a hamper which is given to a dog “who is all alone at Battersea Dogs Home on Christmas Day”. He included a link and exhorted his friends to do the same.
I know I should congratulate him, or possibly order a dog hamper. But something tells me that in the backlash against conventional gift-giving, and in our seeming philanthropy in this post-gift era, we’re losing sight of the true meaning of Christmas yet again.
The idea of giving brightly coloured cards and gifts to our loved ones ought to be homage to the Three Wise Men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ Child.
On that occasion, they did not, so far as I know, broadcast the exact details of their generosity. Imagine the Facebook post: “As our friends know, Balthasar and I do not do presents, but we have decided to make an exception this year in order to celebrate the birth of the saviour of mankind. Why not join us and send a pot of gold or some incense to: c/o The Stables, Travel Inn at Bethlehem, Judea.”
Cue comments such as “You are wonderful, Melchior!” and “Moved to tears!” But the Magi probably didn’t brag about their presents, because they knew it was not all about them.
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