I tried to wrap the goat but the darn thing keeps moving.

December 23, 2011

The kid beaming out of the photo looks positively ecstatic. The goat he’s clutching, not so much. I’m guessing the animal somehow comprehends the child’s broad smile is in anticipation of a big bowl of goat stew for dinner.

While Christmas shoppers scurry outside the office, I’m sitting at my desk looking at an ad for World Vision. You know the one: “Buy a World Vision Smiles gift this Christmas and help change lives.” The ad copy is accompanied by photos of cute, but obviously needy kids, holding assorted critters ($9 for a chicken and chicken feed!; $20 for a duck!; $40 for a goat!”) as well as some second-tier actor whose face is meant to add a dose of legitimacy.

Donating to the welfare of hungry children is probably a  guaranteed instant deposit in the karma bank but I admit to being wary, having seen too many images of warlords hijacking trucks belonging to assorted humanitarian agencies and then feeding their soldiers while villagers starve .

How do I know my $40 is actually buying a goat, as opposed to ending up in some pirate’s bank account? How do I know the goat is going to that cute kid, as opposed to some fat general?

Who knew gift giving would involve so much thinking?

There was a time Viking Woman and I spent willy-nilly on each other: “Did she just glance at that and smile? Sold!”

Those days are long-gone.

Maybe it’s our small budget and big mortgage. Maybe it’s our small house and even smaller storage space.

Maybe we just have all we really need.

I, for one, cannot think of a single thing I’d like for Christmas. Scratch that: I cannot think of a single thing we can afford that I’d like for Christmas. A new camera? A new computer? Not gonna happen.

Thankfully, we have plenty of memories of Christmases Past, ones when there were presents under the tree as opposed to the dust bunnies who inhabit that space these days.

Viking Woman still enjoys seeing the shock on people’s faces when she relates how, soon after we were married, I gave her a tool belt. And then she laughs and assures her listeners it was one of the best gifts she’s ever received.

She also chortles every time she remembers the expression on my face when I tore open a present from her, only to find a Brooks and Dunn CD.

“Surely this is a mistake,” I said, “because it is you, not I, who is the lone country and western fan in this household.”

“Look again, Mr. Ungrateful,” she said. “That CD contains the song you’ve been singing the last several months.”

“Oh. Right,” I said. “How very thoughtful. Love you!”

We’ve got dozens of such stories about Christmas gifts given and received.

Maybe it’s time for a story about a goat.

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