The gift that keeps on giving
The first Christmas that I can remember I think I was two. I was too young to have written you a letter but somehow you managed to give me the most amazing gifts that year. Under the tree on Christmas morning were a whole lot of boxes. There were all kinds of assorted colours, shapes and sizes…. I really loved those boxes ….thank you.
When I turned four I asked you for a ‘yellow’ retriever puppy. I must have been really bad that year because you sent me underpants, books and an action man which suspiciously resembled something from my sisters Barbie doll collection. It was not my favourite Christmas. Mom mumbled something about puppies being for life and not for Christmas….I did not know when we were supposed to celebrate life but I never did get that retriever puppy.
Then when I turned six, and had an additional two years worth of writing experience under my belt, I was adamant not to risk any confusion over what it was that I wanted that year. I painstakingly wrote out a very detailed list of ten items in the neatest print I could muster. I posted it in October, figuring maybe you just needed some extra time to get the elves working on a delivery plan. My hard work kind of paid off as I received the gift in pole-position on the list – A Scalextric set. The rest of the list must have been lost in transit as I never saw any of them but it is still one of my happiest Christmas memories.
By age eight I was starting to get suspicious of the way you managed to deliver all of these presents in one single night. When I asked Mom, she said you were omnipresent – I did not know what that meant exactly but given the historic precedent, I was pretty sure it had nothing to with ‘presents’ and must have been something akin to dyslexia because you were clearly not interpreting my annual wish-lists very accurately. On my eighth Christmas morning I charged downstairs full of hope and anticipation that my written prose would finally be rewarded handsomely. But alas you had clearly by-passed the list in favour of new school kit for the year ahead.
When I turned 10 the bubble burst –I found out there was no Father Christmas. O-M-G! Initially I was what can only be described as inconsolable. Eventually however, a sense of peace settled upon me as I realised that at least all of those years of the brazen neglect of my Xmas wish-list was not indicative of some sort of bad karma or Santa payback.
I immediately approached my father having worked out where to direct my wrath over being disappointed on so many previous Christmas’.
“Son” he said, “There are two main reasons you have not always got what you wanted when you wanted them. Firstly, granny and grandpa need our help – their pensions are not very good and your mom and I have to support them. We simply have less cash available to spend on you guys.”
“Secondly, I am finding out firsthand just how hard it is to support parents already in retirement, raise a family and make sure I provide for our own retirement sufficiently when the time comes. I don’t want you to be feeling the same for me and your mom in 25 years time so I am giving you the same Christmas present this year as I have each and every other year. I am giving you the gift of my own financial freedom so you never have to worry about us in the future. Merry Christmas my boy!”
I have to admit that at age 10 I never really understood what my father was telling me. This year I have celebrated my 40th birthday and as I have grown older and started a family of my own I have finally understood the greatest gift in the world that I can give my kids is MY OWN FINANCIAL FREEDOM.
To not be a financial burden in my children’s lives is truly the gift that will keep on giving.
Sure it is a gift that will never appear on any of my kid’s letters to Santa, or indeed under the tree. It is not going to elicit any Christmas morning feverish excitement in my household and I won’t be getting the love and affection that comes from ‘delivering’ on the Xmas list. In fact I will possibly experience some social pain and torment by advocating this stance and the army of retailers, marketers and advertisers will almost certainly ridicule me for this Grinch-like miserly behaviour.
But I am confident that in the decades to come my children will appreciate, as I have, that my financial independence is one of the best gifts that they have ever received.
I have not got dependent parents – My dad did not get to enjoy reaching retirement but my mother is more than adequately provided for thanks to a great retirement plan.
So Santa, this Christmas I am grateful I am not a part of the so called ‘sandwich’ generation that needs to support a family growing up and a family growing old. I love my family and I finally understand why perhaps you did not deliver me everything I ever wanted all those years ago.
Love as always,
If you could use some help planning to give the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas (and each one hereafter) please contact White Investments, visit our website or like our Facebook page and get the ball rolling.
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