What I enjoy most at the holidays is partying with the rich. OK, so I am a snob, I am in awe of affluence. Between events at hospitals, office, church, temple, holiday balls, township, and a multitude of community groups, this is the season to hobnob with the haves. It is great to know, no matter where I go, I am not far from people of great worth.
It is wealth, which brings meaning to this special time of year. Of course, I am not talking about dollars, cents, credit cards, and long lines, nor of packages piled high, or baubles stuffed into knit stockings. I am not alluding to the anxious wonder on children’s faces as they tear open packages of myriad colors and shapes. No, the wealth that means so much to you and me, the true value of the holidays, is measured in the worth of giving.
It seems to me that a person is not “worth” what is in the bank, gathering interest, waiting for a rainy day. Not that it is bad to have a nest egg tucked away for planned or emergent contingency. However, I think the measure of a man or woman is not weighed on a scale as ounces of gold. I believe that the worth of a person is not what they have, but what they contribute to the world.
This gets us back to the sharing of holiday cheer, which gives me the wonderful chance to commune with and appreciate high-net-worth individuals. I see nurses and doctors who work in inner city clinics, volunteers on infinite committees, charities and foundations, first responders who give their skill, comfort and time so that others may live, exhausted soup kitchen volunteers, VFW officers supporting those who have already sacrificed so much, spiritual leaders who teach, guide and hold a hand, youth organizers, local politicians, and so many who give the dollars they have so that others can be happy, healthy and safe.
The value under tree and menorah are the Moms and Dads who give days and nights of work and sacrifice their needs so that their own sons and daughters, so that the sons and daughters of others, can enjoy the peace and excitement of the holidays or simply a warm meal. I see children take care of aging parents, parents taking care of sick children, neighbors and friends who reach out to help during strife and illness.
It is the generosity of giving that creates value, not just for the needy, but for all of us. Altruism builds for society a foundation of support, wisdom, growth and love. Not all the bullion locked in all the vaults in the world can buy a moment of joy. It is when we reach out to each other that we conceive beauty, understanding and hope.
The holiday season, more than any other time, displays the vast richness of life that has been created by the gifts of so many. This engine of shared sacrifice forges much more than gilded treasure. It builds a wealth of warmth, security, knowledge and love. It is the true measure of what we are worth.