Them that’s got shall get,
Them that’s not shall lose,
Billie Holiday (paraphrasing the Bible) hit the nail on the head, especially during this merry season of gift giving.
I’ve got a friend who is rolling in the dough. Roll. Ing. I wouldn’t say she and her husband are filthy rich, but at the very least they are incredibly grimy. Not that I discriminate against the loaded – they put their diamond-encrusted pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. In fact, I’m happy to have wealthy friends. As long as they aren’t cheapos, and remember to insist on picking up the check whenever we go out.
The problem is this: when buying gifts for someone who is well-off, I tend to mentally kick the limit up and over what I’d usually spend.
Take when this friend got married. My go-to, all-occasion special gift is pot holders (I know – who doesn’t love them?) But I found myself perusing her registry at a high-end department store and seriously considering a Mix Master. Those suckers cost $400! I don’t have one - my Mix Master is my arm with a wooden spoon at the end of it.
The same thing happened this Christmas. I caught myself looking at the more expensive baubles when shopping for Rich Friend than for Poor Friend and I had to stop and figure out why.
I think what it comes down to is pride. My pride. I was unconsciously afraid that my friend would find my gift inferior. That she who had so much material wealth would look down on what I had to offer and, hence, look down on me.
Didn’t I learn my lesson from the Little Drummer Boy? When I was a kid, a hitherto unknown Bible story about the nativity was discovered by those biblical scholars, Rankin & Bass. It turns out it wasn’t just barnyard animals and wise men in the stable with the Holy Family 2000 years ago. There was also a boy with a little drum and a big chip on his shoulder.
The lesson is clear. Whether grand or humble, gifts given from the heart are what are truly important. This is true for our real friends as it is true for God.
I haven’t been fair to any of my friends. Them’s that got don’t need more – but them’s that not, do. If a friend sneers at something given from the heart, then they’re not the kind of friend I need.
This Christmas, my gift to the baby Jesus is very humble; I’ll try to be kinder and more patient to those around me.
For everyone else on my Christmas list, including my rich friend? Excuse me, but I’ve got some pot holders to wrap.
God Bless us, everyone!