Opinion

Brotherton: The best gift is not a thing

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we can thankfully focus on the important things in life. Rushing around buying worthless holiday gifts for those we love, for instance.

Mailboxes, both on my computer and on my front porch, have been filled with enticements of holiday presents. One, from the Danbury Mint, piqued my interest. “Isn’t it a great feeling to know you’ve found (your wife) the perfect gift?” Hmmmm. It continues, “Chocolates melt and flowers wilt but the I Love You Personalized Diamond Pendant is a gift that lasts forever!” It comes “elegantly engraved” with the Shakespearean verse: Alison, I loved you then, I love you still, I always have, I always will. William.

The last person to call me William was my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Arcand.

The temptation continues: “Don’t be fooled by its jeweled beauty. This pendant only looks expensive. Your low price is $99 plus $7.50 shipping and service, payable in three monthly installments. The pendant arrives in our sumptuous gift pouch at no extra charge, ready to surprise and delight your sweetheart.” It’s “ablaze with diamonds” that “sparkle from a shimmering gold ion-plated pendant with luminous mother-of-pearl.”

Unexpectedly, the lure uses fear and guilt to make the sale: “The words you wish you’d said to Alison years ago. Even more precious and meaningful to her right now. William, RSVP now while you still can.”

If you’ve already ordered it for your sweetie, I’m sorry. Better to actually say “I love you” every day.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have infiltrated our lives, what’s next? Cheer & Presents Danger Month? Season of Omnipresents?

The greatest gift is not a thing. Yes, the spirit of giving is to be commended, but a flat screen TV or video game system can’t equal the heartwarming generosity of George Markos and his staff at Brothers Deli in downtown Lynn who feed the hungry at no charge, the thousands of volunteers who spend their holidays serving free meals to those in need, those who donate to worthwhile charities.

It’s always amazed me that folks ditch family celebrations every Turkey Day to dash to a store to get a jump on Christmas shopping. The best gift is spending time with those you love,

not another sweater that will spend eternity in the bottom drawer of a bureau. You realize this the older you get; each year it seems there’s one fewer person sitting at the dining table. Simply put, retailers should not be open on Thanksgiving Day. Workers should be with their families. Profits should not come first.

Wouldn’t it be swell that instead of obsessing about chasing bargains on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’d get equally excited about Family Friday, Thoughtful Tuesday, Warm-hearted Wednesday, Tolerant Thursday, Sentimental Saturday and Spiritual Sunday?

I know, I’m delusional.

Every year, my dad would put “A Christmas Carol” by local satirist Tom Lehrer on the record player. We’d sing along to the smart-alecky lyrics: “On Christmas day you can’t get sore/Your fellow man you must adore/There’s time to rob him all the more/The other three hundred and sixty-four.” and “God rest ye merry, merchants/May you make the yuletide pay/Angels we have heard on high/Tell us to go out and buy!”

That song was written in 1959. Things haven’t changed much.

We should all embrace the sentiments of Linus in that beloved Charlie Brown holiday cartoon:Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.” Now, that would be a welcomed gift.

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