Sadly, difficult times do not necessarily create a bond between people. When one’s wallet is nearly empty, it seems easier to give in to bitterness and envy than to appreciate the good things we have. I sympathize with a young friend’s anger at someone else’s frivolous expenses and I share her sorrow at not being able to provide her children with that which deems essential to a happy holiday celebration. Being much older, I have find it easier to be amused at wealthy friends’ extravagance. I enjoy looking at their lovely possessions, but frankly, I have no need for a pair of shoes that costs $ 600.

True, time there was when I listened to the little voice that said that I needed to wear designer clothes in order to be accepted in a society that has always kinder to haves than to have-nots. A consumer society inevitably fosters social insecurity and the sense that one’s worth equals one’s acquisitive power. The good thing is that as one ages, one sees the folly of wanting to fill whatever vacuum there is in one’s life with material objects.

Not that I espouse a Spartan lifestyle. I would not quibble if someone were to send me a Rembrandt, a silk rug made in Moorish Spain, an emerald necklace, a ruby ring. But I have accepted, at long last, love is the only real treasure. This season, it is my family and friends who will help bring joy and warmth into my life. Whether they own Jimmy Choo shoes or brand x-trainers is of no consequence. Their very being is more valuable than rubies. Sappy, you say? Scoff away. I stand by my choices and I choose joy.

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