Recently, I remembered the old seasonal television special I watched as a kid: “The Little Drummer Boy.” The little fellow went to see the newborn Christ Child, but he had no gift worthy to give. Where others had gold, frankincense and myrrh, he only had a drum to play.
This Christmas, I don’t even have that! Of course, it wouldn’t matter if I did; I don’t know how to play the drum. As it’s the end of the year, this is my time to look back over the previous twelve months and assess the events of my life.
It has not been a good year.
Work has been “thin,” money tight, and our home gone. My old work is gone, and I see no relief on the horizon. Washington continues to “fiddle,” while the rest of us “burn,” and there are no leaders with the gumption to stand up to the moneyed interests and help us little people. I never thought I’d be one of those people to speak longingly of the “Good Old Days,” but I am now. Growing up, as part of the middle class had been nice; living day to day is not. We’ve sold off most things of value we owned, and now we face the New Year with little resources. There are so many things that I would like to do for my wife and daughter for Christmas, but I know they will not be possible; I have no money for such things.
I got to thinking. I do manage to do that, every occasionally. I remembered that old television special. I remembered that the “Little Drummer Boy” hadn’t given the gift of a song to the Christ Child. No, it was the gift of love. Now sure, I’ve rolled my eyes at the endless Christmas specials that harp on that theme, so old, so lame. Yet, I had to admit, the message rang true, especially for this most special time of year.
One way I earn extra money is with my writing. It is one of the great loves of my life, my ability to be truly creative and silence all the voices running around in my head. The money isn’t much. I’m no Rowling or Grisham, but it’s enough to make a small difference in our lives. There are a few small things that I’ll be able to get my family for Christmas. This year, I won’t focus on “big ticket items”; no, this year it has to be about the thought.
I plan to think long and hard on just the right gifts for each. It all goes back to that saying: it’s the thought that counts. I may only spend a few dollars on the gifts I get my wife, but each of them will be from the heart; each will have a great deal of thought behind it.
Despite all the hardships of the year, I actually look forward to this Christmas. The simple reason is I will be together with my family and we will enjoy the company of one another, no high-tech toys, no “bling” and no obsessing over “keeping up with the Jones.”
Chalk this up yet another contribution we make to the “shared sacrifices” the politicians and pundits keep calling on all of us to make. I wonder when they’re going to start doing that. You think maybe they’ll only buy their wife one new car for Christmas?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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