Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holiday Karma Is Give-and-Take

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holiday Karma Is Give-and-Take

Article excerpt

A LOCAL real estate guy, Michael B. Fox, wrote a poem, and one of his friends sent it to me:

It's nice at this time as another year ends,

To remember your wonderful family and friends.

I bought a great gift for my wife - yes I did,

And one for my father and one for each kid.

I gave to my barber, the clerk at World News,

The trash men of course and the guy who shines shoes.

The folks at the office, the girl at the bank,

Just so many people I wanted to thank.

And then I was done - well, just one more to do,

A note to the mailman (a bit of cash, too.)

The envelope said "To the Mailman" - no more,

And I had it in hand walking out of the door.

When what in my wondering ears should I hear,

But my wonderful wife saying, "No, silly dear.

Our new letter carrier's a woman, you bum,

Sometimes it astounds me that men are so dumb."

She was right - using "mailman" just wouldn't do,

So I went back inside and I started anew.

I try to be strictly correct when I can,

So I re-wrote the card "To the Fe-Mailman."

A nice poem, indeed. But even more than the poem itself, I was struck with the notion of a fine tradition that has somehow slipped away.

People used to give holiday gifts, almost always money, to the people who provided services to them throughout the year.

The mailman always got something. So did the garbagemen. So did the kid who delivered the newspaper.

In fact, when I became an adult, so deeply ingrained were the old ways that I always had an envelope for my service providers.

Pretty soon, though, I quit giving to the mailman. To the Woodstock Nation, the job of mailman was considered the perfect job. You made good money, and you could wear your hair long, and you spent most of your time outside.

Why give a gift to a guy who already has it all?

Still, I faithfully doled out cash to the garbagemen, even though they made good money, could wear their hair long and spent most of their time outside.

But collecting garbage did not seem like the perfect job, so I always gave the garbagemen something at the holidays.

My generosity finally wore out when recycling came into vogue. …

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