Time To Give, Selfishly

I just had a shower, and while I was standing there, the warm water pouring over me, I cried a little. I cried about something I did three days ago, because I have been so busy over the last few days that it only seeped into my consciousness while I was in the shower, all by myself, with 5 minutes to contemplate the implications of it. What did I do?

Last Thursday I went into the supermarket around my office to buy milk or whatever it was we needed at home. In the entrance hall of said supermarket stands a Christmas tree, with some baubles and some glitter and…paper squares? Yes, when you take a closer look they turn out to be little lists with Christmas wishes from poor children who live in our community. When you take one of them off the tree you can see that these kids wish for new sweatshirts or soap or some pencils. F***ing what!? Christmas is a time when a 14 year old boy should wish for StarWars-Lego and X-Box games and football shirts and huge heaps of all the candy that isn’t allowed on a normal day!! A f***ing bar of soap, for Christmas? In a wealthy country like this? So, I did a quick check in the back of my head about how much money I could spare and took two paper squares off the tree. One was from a boy who wanted a sweatshirt, one was for a baby of six months whose parents apparently couldn’t afford to buy baby oil and diaper rash cream. (There were so many, I didn’t even look, I just pulled.) I spent 50 Euros on Christmas presents for kids I don’t know and will never meet. When I came home, the Scotsman said something like “About that second Christmas present you suggested…” I interrupted him: “I am so sorry”, I said, “I thought that was already off the table, so I bought presents for somebody else from the money…” and I explained the whole thing. He was close to crying. Then he got angry – not at me, but at the situation. Then he almost cried again. Perfect mirror of my emotions while I was buying the presents, actually.

And today I cried about it. I cried because we live in a country that can spend billions of Euros on a new opera house, a new airport that will never be finished because it was a planning disaster from start to…well, now, and a new railway station that nobody wanted nor really needed in the first place. And at the same time we have children here whose Christmas wishes are for essentials of everyday life rather than luxuries no one actually needs. This is a time to give. Give whatever you can. But give selfishly. Because if you don’t maintain yourself, your own health and your own sanity, you are no use to anyone. So, first of all, be good to yourself and be kind to your own soul. Then be there for other people.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas time and Happy Holidays!