The joy of giving…..

Opposed as I am to organised, indeed any form of, religion I have to say that I enjoy Christmas. Well, I enjoy some parts of it without any feelings of guilt.

I loathe with a deadly loathing the run up to Christmas. I would willingly leave all that to the Christians themselves.

I despise the, “It’s all about the children.” attitude. It’s not about the children. That is just an excuse.

I  dislike the seasonal attitude to charity summed up in the old name for one charity; Crisis at Christmas. It’s not just a crisis at Christmas it’s a bloody crisis all the year round and existed before Christmas was ever thought of. And it’s world wide. I have to admit that the charity is now named simply Crisis and they operate all year round.

That’s another thing to loathe: the parochialism of Christmas. Okay, “Charity begins at home.” But surely, IF (and it’s a big if) Jesus was preaching a multinational message, Christmas charity should be  multinational.

I feel guilty about Christmas Lunch. But I do enjoy it! And Christmas cake… a rich dark fruit cake covered in a layed of almost 100% sugar icing. I enjoy that too. But maybe I should feel guilty about its carbon footprint?

Compulsion….or at least a feeling of compulsion engendered by that list of people who sent cards last year. Not all of them have email addresses and many of those who have have not made us privy to them. Actually emails are not as enjoyable as cards.

Round Robins! Why oh why is it always (95% of the time) my Christian acquaintances who send out Round Robins? Boasting of how “The Lord” has sent this and that to try us or has blessed us with this and that and aren’t our kids wonderful because they’ve done this or that? Actually the latter is a  way of boasting as to how damn superior their kids are to everyone else’s when in reality they are just ordinary kids. If you really want to share your kids with us, and I don’t mind that, do it for the whole year.  Oh, and the cat had two litters of kittens and we are still trying to house four of the darling little creatures.  That might tempt me if they didn’t live so far away.

I rarely get Round Robins from non-Christian friends and it’s interesting how un-self satisfied those are that I do get. No smugness there on the whole.

I expect that you are wondering if there is anything I like about Christmas?

Well, there are a few things. I love the tree and decorating it. Mind you I think we need to move on from “designer” decorating with just silver and white with a bit of red…. we first did that decades ago before everyone else seemed to pick up on the idea…but that’s like the decking in the garden, we irst had it long before TV gardening became fashionable and ours was Hexagonal. We were ahead of the game. Mind you the tree SHOULD NEVER go up before Christmas Eve…. Certainly not in OCTOBER!!!!!

I love the feeling of comfortable isolation and the quiet in the streets.

Most of all I love the giving. From the careful selection of which card to send to which person to the competition to get our card to Vicky in Canada before she has had a chance to send ours. Vicky’s card always arrives in the first week of December and we usually forget to send ours to her until it’s almost too late. This year of course we remembered and enclosed a long lost photograph of her grandson as a toddler…he is now 21. Wouldn’t you know it? This year her card to us did not arrive until the proper time and it had been posted in England. Was  she over here or was her sister over there? Mystery!

The pleasure, the joy, of giving something material that embodies a bit of thought is the real pleasure of Christmas. Only improved by the last minute rush on Christmas Eve to get something for the family members. Shopping! Spending, even if you can’t really afford it. Or maybe especially if…  Go on I can hear it…Typical man leaves everything to the last minute! Of course I do…I will NOT be organised by others if I can help it.

The joy of giving was emphasised this year when we nipped down the road to some neighbours and delivered pressies! Welcomed in we sat down and were offered a drink….duly declined..and then we gave out the present for them to put under their (prematurely erected and decorated) tree. Jane (I’ll call her that) looked up and said, “You spoil us.” and Lady M piped up with, “He enjoys it!”

Yes I do. I get a huge buzz out of seeing someone’s face when they think, “A present? For me? Weee!”

Yup! That’s my present to me!

I’m glad that Lady M understands that about me.


16 Responses to “The joy of giving…..”

  1. Rummuser Says:

    “So many gods, so many creeds, So many paths that wind and wind,
    While just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs.”
    ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

  2. padmum Says:

    Just watch a child get a present—that joy, the sound of ripping paper and the immediate use of the toy is priceless.

    Older people shilly-shally, carefully open the wrapping paper (to reuse it) and take out the present. You can see the expressions chasing across their faces–os dissatisfaction, of ‘I’ve been there, done that’, “I already have this’ and then the false appreciation oozing with saccharine sweetness.

    • magpie11 Says:

      Most fun is when a child enjoys the box more than the toy! That is real play!

      As for adult reactions: You are so cynical Padmum 😉 The art of giving comes into this…choosing the right sort of thing. Choosing something appropriate, something different, something that surprises.
      MY sister always manages to but me male toiletries which stink. She has no taste and they always end up in the charity shop. How ever I’m sure she has fun choosing.

      This Christmas we gave her gentleman friend two caterpillars; Little plastic wind up toys so that he could have an attack of the sillies and race them. We packed them in a box that was labelled “Live plants: Handle with care” and filled the box with dead twigs onto which we placed the Caterpillars. The joke fell completely flat. He had no idea how to react. It was fun getting it ready though.

      This thing about opening things with care goes back, with me, to post war austerity. The paper was ironed flat, folded and packed up for use next year.

      At the retirement of a colleague(a senior Local Authority Inspector of Maths) the retiree carefully opened a beautifully packed gift. Part way through the operation he looked up and grinned, “Ask David why this is taking so long. Waste not want not.”

      • magpie11 Says:

        Does anyone else play Guess What’s Inside the Package?
        Family tradition/… we always had to spend time guessing….I’m sure it was to draw out the experience in the absence of many presents.
        Austerity again.

      • padmum Says:

        I have started using glossy pages from magazines–anyway I am subscribed to getting them! I choose pics appropriate to receiver–animals for kids, sceneries for the travel buff, cars for the vrooomers–ads give you plenty of choice. If the pages are small in size, I just stick them together to make them large.

        I also use plastic bags in bright colours with aribbon tied around it. Reuse! That’s my mantra.

  3. conhake Says:

    Magpie, it seems to me that there are joyous gifts that you find in many things once the wrappings of cultural religion are ripped off of it.

  4. Grannymar Says:

    Give me a handmade – read home made – gift any day, especially if it comes from a child.

  5. bitchontheblog Says:

    Magpie, real passion in your post. One of the many things I like about you: Not pandering to the masses. Which will not stop the masses pandering to you.

    I love December. And, in the tradition of the motherland, the tree (Norwegian Pine) does go up on Christmas Eve which is the big occasion.

    Round Robins? David, you have put your claw where it hurts. I HATE round robins. I once intimated this to a “friend” (she works in sales so she knows how to write a brochure or not) ca 1989 that there is only so much time saving one can take to feel NOT appreciated. Next time I ran into her, by accident, Hengistbury Head, Kite Festival, August, she was stumped for words. Never heard from her again. As results go I am pleased though do feel for her husband.

    I’ll leave you and your readers with a poem the Angel wrote when, say, eight or so (and yes, he positively forbids me to buy him anything, though did appreciate last month’s bottles of beer I had wrapped up looking like Christmas Crackers).

    If ever there was a social comment here it is, copyright protected by his mother:

    Christmas Stars shining bright
    Making a lovely sight
    A Christmas tree with an angel on top
    Let all of the crackers go pop pop pop
    Snow like a white blanket on the ice cold ground
    Carols being sung making a wonderful sound
    Lots of presents being unwrapped
    Decorations being put up tap tap tap
    Jesus’ story being told
    While lots of toys are being sold


    • magpie11 Says:

      Re Round Robins: I did have a tentative idea of recording a long message, interspersed with music and sound effects, and “issuing” it on CD. The label would (of course) be a suitably fat robin.
      It’s rather like my idea to conduct my own funeral by recording a CD to be played and handed out afterwards! ” Hello everyone. I bet you never expected to hear my voice again. …..”

      I love the sting int he tail of the poem…

  6. Delirious Says:

    I have to admit that I often feel guilty that we give so much to charity at Christmas time, but not so much during the rest of the year…

    • padmum Says:

      Delirious–in fact in a local orphanage they are drowned with stuff during Diwali, our national festival. They even run short of storage space in the fridges. They tell us frankly..please come and spend time with the kids–things we get plenty! Kids love to meet and interact with people as it gives them a new perspective. I usually tell them stories!

      • magpie11 Says:

        It can be the same for old people in homes…. and take youngsters along so that they can learn something and give huge pleasure at the same time.

  7. magpie11 Says:

    Padmum… the other year I did wrap some presents in newspaper. I took the idea from The Guardian which had published “celebrity” designed wrapping papers… not very good ones actually so the actual headlines would have added interest!

  8. cedar51 Says:

    charities get onto the idea of that children of the ‘poor’ will need more presents…there are:

    gifting trees, drives, clubs who request this or that, foodbanks that want to give a bit more than just food and so forth

    the next time charity will hit the headlines is early winter for blankets and tinned food…

    but the ‘poor’ do not stop being poor as you have mentioned, we will start hearing real soon that the foodbanks and rescue charities will be running out goods because those who shouldn’t will have spent up large and run out of money to pay for utilities and groceries…the jingle of advertisers is just too much for many people. Not just the ‘poor’ of course but definitely “giving at that time of the year” is about the biggest and most expensive – toy, gadget, other…

    the “joy of giving” just takes a bad turn from time to time!

  9. Maria from 'gaelikaa's diary' Says:

    I’m not really sure what a round robin is. But I agree with everything you’ve said though.

    • magpie11 Says:

      A round-robin was originally used to describe a document signed in a circle by multiple parties to make it more difficult to determine the order in which it was signed. This preventing a ringleader from being identified.

      The present use means a letter with a single author copied and sent to multiple recipients. It usually happens around Christmas time and often perhaps indicates a certain amount of laziness. Sometimes they are included with a greeting card and sometimes they are sent out as they are. We have one friend whose Christmas missives usually arrive around the following Easter and by e-mail! Mind you last Christmas it arrived on time. The first time in many years.

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