The Gift is in the Giving. A Gift from a Thief.

by | Dec 24, 2001 | Archives

Here's a Christmas message that brings an economic message. This was sent in a most unusual way!

Christmas music and aromas of fresh baked bread rose fragrantly from the floor below. Shoppers scurried by, a child's giggle mixed with the hiss of steam frothing milk. This was a Christmas scene at the old Whiteleys building, Queensway, London, W2. On our recent London trip, Merri and I were taking our daughters Francesca and Eleanor shopping. Near our former home on Moscow Road, sits the shell of a huge department store. When we lived there this was a decrepit shell, but thanks to the vision of a real estate developer it now houses an arcade full of smart shops, shoes, clothes, sporting goods, the lot. The day we were there, an exhibition of wonderful foods from France was in the main foyer, jars of jams, rich soups and stew, escargot and piles of warm bread, croissants and brioche that sent irresistible smells to the second floor where Merri and I sat in an Italian Cafe.

Earlier we had strolled Queensway picking a few last minute gifts for friends, a salt pig (like a cookie jar but for storing salt). Some butter vats, several bottles of rose and orange blossom water, some sweet tea cozies and a yogurt maker for one daughter who is careful about her food.

Then we sat waiting as the girls shopped, stuffed shopping bags beneath our seats, sipping slowly, and watching busy Christmas shoppers bustle from one shop to the next.

The girls returned, ready for us to buy and we set off, forgetting our bags. Remembering them almost immediately, I turned back to the cafe to discover the bags gone! The many signs proclaiming “Thieves at work”, were correct.

I was almost mad, when I had a thought. “I know everything in this universe is in perfect order. I just can't see a big enough picture”, I mumbled to myself. “Perhaps these things. The salt pig and yogurt maker will help someone I don't know this Christmas.”

Though I couldn't see the whole picture a sense of peace came over me. “We've given someone a Christmas gift”, I told Merri. “Our becoming too trusting from living in the country has become a way to pass something on to someone else.” Hope that whoever got these goods can really use them. I am not advocating theft, crime nor being careless. But by accepting that things do happen that we don't expect, I recognized that everything is somehow okay. If we don't try to impose a limited sense of order on events, then every minute becomes some sort of gift.

This is important to investors when we make investments that lose. Instead of feeling loss, we can gain from the event.

That thief gave three gifts. First the lesson to hold onto my bags. The second far deeper message, was to accept every moment of life as a gift. Third, this event helped me understand that everything we do is a form of giving for which we are responsible. Investors who understand this are way ahead.

There is no chance to thank the thief personally, but I am grateful and hope that sharing this gratitude increases its value and passes the gift onto you.