Bad kids get lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings, right?
And good kids get…well, for good kids the sky's the limit. Or so good kids desperately hope.
So before December 25th arrives, you do a short review, just a brief precautionary survey, to check on how you stack up in the all-important good kid-bad kid sweepstakes.
Let's see, during the past twelve months you weren't a serial killer, not even a sort-of-nice-one, like Dexter. Check.
You didn't buy up companies, strip them of their valuable assets and sell off the rest, sending hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs to India or the Philippines or some such place and forcing an equal number of workers onto the unemployment line. Check.
You didn't mistreat helpless animals…kick the old, frail, pregnant or incapacitated to the curb to reach that empty cab first…spread vicious rumors…pick pockets…or set fires to collect insurance money. Check…check…check…check…and double check.
So all things considered, you were a pretty good kid. Which means…at least you hope it means…Santa will fill your Christmas stocking with some really nice goodies.
Then Christmas comes, and the long-awaited moment when you can dip into that stocking and tally up your loot is finally here.
Okay, not a single iPad, iPod, iPhone or Mac-anything in sight. But there is a basic laptop.Your first one ever. So far, so good. There are also gift cards. No question about it, you can always use those. And beautiful flowering plants as well as boxes of rich Italian pastry and creamy chocolate candy.
All in all, not a bad haul, and you go to sleep that night with a smile on your face and a twinge in your gut (when will you learn that one thick slice of tiramisu is more than enough, and two thick slices will come back to bite you every time?)
Then Christmas is finally over, and as you prepare to pack away the Yule decorations, you suddenly realize the most important thing Santa put in your stocking—not this year's stocking, but last year's edition. It's a gift you couldn't see back then, a gift you can only recognize in hindsight, and it's the most valuable gift of all.
365 days of it.
A full year of pretty good health, enough money to pay your bills, and even a dream or two that finally came true.
So even if that billion-dollar bank balance remains forever elusive and the castle in Spain, the Rolls Royce and the eat-all-you-want-and-never-gain-an-ounce diet never materialize, you still (in the most literal sense imaginable) received the gift of a lifetime.
It's what you hope is in your stocking again this Christmas, the same gift you'd like for everyone else as well—another year of life, love, laughter, good health, and dreams fulfilled.