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25 December 2007

Indulgence v. Abundance

What a smorgasbord of giving and taking, eh?

Ever notice that the people with the least means seem to give gifts with the most meaning?

Yet year after year we - the global "we" - seem to find it an almost irresistible draw to acquire more and more gifts so that our fake tree looks abundant like a Hallmark card. The power of Gifting over Giving is all around us....and few can find immunity. Can you relate? I can.

I hearken back to the story of the woman and man, hopelessly in love. A romance for the ages. The man had a majestic pocket watch but no chain with which to tether it. The woman had the most divine, long hair that flowed past her waist, but did not have a suitable brush with which to manage it. For Christmas, he secretly sold his pocket watch in order to buy her the most beautiful pearl handled brush he could find. Separately, she secretly cut off her gorgeous hair and sold it to a wig maker so she could afford a handsome and sturdy gold chain for her lover's watch. Their love was in the right place, but their desire to Gift instead of Give left them both a bit heart broken.

I will be the first to admit to the intoxicating effects of a great gift. Partly because of the person and the thought behind it, but partly because of the gift too. It is the nature of the beast, and we all play a part in feeding the beast.

When I look over the pile of gifts that were exchanged today, and squint my eyes little from the glare of the season (!), what I really see is Abundance. Not in gifts, but in a family near and far that I love and that loves me back. This has been a special year for us and among other things to be thankful for, the joy of having a new baby is a breathtaking experience.

We have abundance and indulgence this year...and I hope that we never, ever confuse the two... or fail to pick the pursuit of Abundance over the pursuit of Indulgence if forced to choose.

I aspire to someday have the fortitude to give a single, meaningful, non-US-trade-deficit-contributing gift to my family members...

Until then, like most Americans... I am going to go play with all my new toys...


Anonymous said...

I've been Googling for the last hour or so, trying to find the source of the story about the man and woman that you mentioned. "Cut off her hair and sold it to a wigmaker" was the phrase that finally gave me the one link, the link to your blog, that was about the same story that I'm looking for.

This Christmas was bittersweet enough that it stirred up vague memories of this story. I don't even know if it's from a book, or a movie, or maybe it's a book in a movie?

If you can point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful. If you can point me in the wrong direction, I'd be somewhat grateful that you at least tried to help. :)

I'm going to bookmark this blog and check back in to see your reply.

Michael M. said...

I am sorry your Christmas was bittersweet, friend. The story is by O. Henry and it is called Gift of the Magi. You can read it in it's entirety here:

Thanks for the visit and be well.