Nemo, that crusty old cynic, despite a lifetime debunking emotional hogwash masquerading as reason, gets a little sentimental when the Christmas decorations go up.  While the  holidays bring with them sleighfuls of their own unique nonsense, they have their high points, which can be reliably assured to convey a welcome measure of optimism and good will to souls even as dark as his.  There can be no real quarrel with a brief season of hope for “peace on earth,” and whatever makes our generally-irascible citizens behave with a jot of kindness toward each other is not to be lightly tossed aside.

So, a Yuletide story:

My mother-in-law, a formidable matriarch of the old school, each Christmas sends each her nine grandchildren a packet of one hundred crisp new dollar bills, for whatever whimsy they may wish to indulge.  In the center of each bundle is a $50 bill.  This is to be given to some worthy cause of the grandchild’s choosing.

The grandchildren then write a brief essay disclosing their donee, and why they chose them.  These essays are bundled into one little booklet, and duplicates are sent to the entire family.  Tame stuff so far; why am I boring you with this?

One year, the MiL appended an essay of her own, which she introduced as “the best story about giving that I have ever heard,” which we reproduce herewith:

An eight year old boy had a younger sister with leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion, she would die.  His parents asked him if he would be willing to be a donor, and he asked if he could think about it overnight.  The next morning he agreed, and they took him to the hospital.

He was put on a gurney next to his sister, and both were hooked up to IVs.  The boy lay in silence next to his sister while a pint of blood taken from him dripped into her.  A doctor came over to see how he was doing.  The boy opened his eyes, looked at the doctor, and said:

“How soon until I start to die?

And so to you all, a merry Christmas, or happy holidays, or whatever greetings you exchange during this charmed season, when we are reminded for a brief time that there are moments when the very best in us comes out.  Glad tidings of great joy, indeed.