The Gift of Gold

It is the Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany. Christmas is officially over. As tradition goes, it is believed that all Christmas decorations must come down by midnight or else, the whole household will be struck by bad luck throughout the year. With a heavy heart, I spend my entire evening making my living room tinsel-free. It is also a jolly good excuse to finish off any remaining sweets and half-consumed alcohol.

I usually leave my Christmas shopping until the second week of December. It takes two or three trips to the shops and a click of a button and presto, my shopping is done. Though I put careful thought into the presents I am offering, I pray that they would bring pleasure to the recipients. But I am not always lucky when I am on the receiving end as not everyone is as thoughtful as I.

You will understand what I am saying when I say, ‘Secret Santa’ – the last exciting event before the office is closed for the holidays. Having taken a name from a hat, I am careful in purchasing something that I hope they would like. Even though I might not know that person intimately, I would not want them to throw my chosen gift at the back of their cupboard. It is not just trusting my guts but also taking a leap of faith.

On the day of the big reveal … excitement … drumroll. From the big pile, I retrieve my anonymous present wrapped in glittery paper. Should I unwrap now or later? I hesitate. I weigh the tiny present in my hand, feeling the texture, guessing the content. What if I am disappointed? I will need to do my best to compose myself. As I do not have a good poker face it is best that I take my present home and unwrap it away from prying eyes. And if I do not like it, then, I can pass it on to someone who might.

Revelation

Epiphany is another gift-sharing occasion. It is the day when we celebrate the arrival of the Magi or Three Kings who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to baby Jesus. The day is sometimes called ‘little Christmas’ in some parts of the world. Epiphany is also a moment of sudden realisation. Three Wise Men had an epiphany when they saw the lone star and decided to take on a hard journey to meet a newly born.

Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar must have started on their travel many months before. A long and uncomfortable journey on camel back. Imagine, how much easier it would have been if Amazon could deliver their chosen gifts! They battled the physical harshness of the desert because they were about to come upon beauty, purity, and divinity. A deity to whom they would present three material gifts.

Gold was one of the three gifts. One could say that a poor baby born in a manger would have no need of such a lavish gift. Why would Jesus, the son of God, need wealth and money? But as I ponder some more, I realise that gold also means purity. The Three Kings did not come to show off their wealth but to experience pure beauty.

‘Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar.’

Hence, I have learned that there is an ambiguity in practically everything I encounter daily. It is imprudent to take anything at face value. It is only wishful thinking to dream that I would be given a gift-wrapped bundle of wealth. Now that I have had my own epiphany, I need to trust and believe in myself and put the hard work needed to achieve success. There is more beauty in simpler things, and I need to keep it real.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason, and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder, treason should ever be forgot.

I was looking forward to the fifth of November, a significant date to all British. Every year on this date we celebrate Bonfire Night. Also known as Guy Fawkes Night, it is a tradition dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James 1.

When the gunpowder plot was unsuccessful, Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London where he was tortured. He was sentenced to death, hanged, drawn, and quartered. His body parts were sent to different parts of London for all to see and learn.

“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” – Theodore Roosevelt

We remember this tradition when young and old get together, lighting an enormous bonfire, with an impressive effigy of Guy burning on top. We put aside any disagreements we might have had with family and friends during the year and share the goodwill by setting off spectacular fireworks. Furthermore, it is a great excuse to drink litres of mulled wine and gorge on toffee apples and roasted chestnuts.

“Sometimes something catastrophic can occur in a split second that changes a person’s life forever; Other times one minor incident can lead to another and then another and another, eventually setting off just as a big a change in a body’s life.” – Jeanette Walls

But this year, all professional events are cancelled as on the same day, we enter a second lockdown. Our mood has changed from excitement to gloom as we face tougher restrictions. Despite schools and offices being open, the rest of us are only allowed to leave the house if it is indispensable.

To make it worse, people are flocking to supermarkets to stockpile once more fearing their Christmas will be ruined. I am indifferent. I am staying calm. Thinking back about how first time around everybody’s focus was on toilet rolls, flour, and cans of tomatoes, I have decided to sit through this second wave as comfortable as I can. I will neither bake bread nor stuff my face with cakes and biscuits.

While I have mild concerns about this second wave, I fear the continuation of lockdown into the new year, because some people are not taking it seriously. A month ago, my family and I spent two weeks in isolation to protect others. We boosted each other’s spirit, and our mental health was not affected. Though we have bounced back as healthy as before, I cannot imagine what isolation would do to some poor lonely souls.

 “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Life has changed drastically in 2020. Our level of distress has risen massively. We have been impacted by fear, loneliness, and anxiety. But what we should remember is that every day, is like any other day. Even though we might still be in the middle of a pandemic, we must reach out and lean in the support we get from others. Our spirits are thus lifted, and we are given the opportunity to move forward while feeling safe and secured.

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” – William Ellery Channing

So here I am, eyes fixed upwards, watching the colourful explosions in the sky. Covid-19 may have ruined the professional events, but my neighbours have blasted off sparklers, spinners, and rockets from their gardens, much to my delight. What a magical moment full of beauty for all to see! I forget the pandemic and let my heart be filled with hope and belief of a better day.