But it occurs to me that a large number of calculations are going on in our heads as we do so, for I'm as guilty, or normal as the next person.
They'll spend it on booze, is one of the most common excuses, or reasons for not giving. And if they're going to spend it on booze then I might as well spend it on booze for them, our thinking goes.
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A further reason, and let's be honest here, is simple meanness, or, to be more charitable, a certain feeling that we have worked hard for our dosh so why should we throw it into some stranger's begging bowl, however serious their plight may be. And anyway, we tell ourselves, we give when we can, but don't like to have our hand forced.
Where do I stand? Well, I'm a bit of all of the above, and when it comes down to it I give when I can, when I want and when I feel it will do a bit of good. I generally need to be touched in some way by the person I'm giving to, be it by a smile or their pitiful state or their attempt to offer something back, like a poem or a half-croaked tune or whatever.
Christmas is supposed to be the season of giving, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so in Paris at this time of year, especially now that the cold's setting in. As each year I'm going to keep an extra supply of coins in my pocket over the next few days, just in case.
And why not...