|May the season bring you enduring joy, peace and contentment.|
Our very appropriate challenge in this month of holiday stress, obligations, joys and generosity might seem simple and yet on re-examination, it’s quite complex I think: Conjure up a gift of great extravagance — one’s definition of “extravagant” is the detail that is open to extensive interpretation — whimsey, fantasy and creativity.
So, my très, très chers amis, once again welcome to our international By Invitation Only group’s vast and varied approach to the fine art of giving.
I don’t mean to cheat on our assignment, but I am turning the tables on the theme. I want to tell you about the best Christmas gift I have ever received and, staying on message, money was no object. Money was no object because there was no money involved in this extraordinarily loving and generous offering.
Serious scientific studies have proven that it is not “things” that make us deeply happy, but rather experiences. Now, as we all know, experiences do not necessarily come without expense — great or small. I would imagine that at times something material is the catalyst for rich experiences, how about a pied-à-terre in Paris for example?
Let me tell you about my cadeau. I received it this year. I’m living it right this moment. As you may know, I’m in Chicago and will be here for Noël. This will be the first time I have been in the United States for the holidays in more than 25 years. The obvious aspect of my gift is the experience of being with Andrea, Will and Ella sharing all the family rituals of the season.
|Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but consider the heart.|
I am deeply thankful for this, but it is not precisely the present for which I am most grateful. The true, immeasurably precious gift came from My-Reason-For-Living-In-France. He insisted I spend Christmas in Chicago. It was his idea, his gift.
My plan was to return home in time for the fete, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “You know how I feel about specific dates,” he told me. “Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. . . they are just days, you know they only mean something to me if they mean something to you. We’ll celebrate our Christmas when you return and best of all Drea and Ella will be with you. It will be wonderful.”
This is a man who does not know the meaning of “guilt” as in he is incapable of making anyone experience that dreadful emotion. I argued long and hard about leaving him. He refused to listen. “It will be marvelous for you to be with everyone; you love Christmas. You’ll call me. I’ll talk with everyone. It makes me happy to know you’re happy. Stop arguing with me.”
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