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The Gift of the Magi


Maybe you've read "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, a short story originally published in 1905 and introduced to me at the age of 10 years old or so, when I was a bit too young to think it was anything other than sad and randomly unfair. The brief story tells of a young husband and wife couple who buy each other Christmas gifts without much money to spend. They each have one lovely and treasured thing. The woman has amazing, long, beautiful hair, and the man has a pocket watch of great sentimental value that belonged to his grandfather. The woman sells her hair to buy a platinum chain for the watch, while the man sells the watch to buy pretty jeweled accessories for his wife's hair. They meet each other at home that night and admit their cross purposes.

From the vantage point of adulthood, now, I can see the point and the sweetness of how far these people were willing to go for someone they loved and how the useless gifts themselves weren't the important bit. I started my holiday season Thursday by cooking a vegan Thanksgiving lunch for 4. It was simple enough, 4 dishes and about 3 hours of cooking and cleaning tops, but it resonated with me to welcome family and friends to such an easy but well meant occasion. It was decidedly the most peaceful Thanksgiving Day I have ever had (excluding those of my childhood, when I was the unthinking recipient of other people's gifts of love).

And now I am percolating about how to bring this sense of ease and peace through the remainder of the holiday season with me. How can I give gifts that are based on love rather than on "stuff"? Here are some ideas I have come up with:

1. Keep it simple.

2. Give one thing.

3. Give an experience.

4. Give in honor.

5. Recognize that your full and mindful presence is the best gift you can give. Hair can be regrown, and new watches bought, but you can't be replaced.

Here is wishing you a Holiday Season filled with ease, peace, and simple joys!

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