In the bustle of the holiday season—Hanukkah or Christmas or whichever winter celebration you uphold—sometimes we forget the spirit of it all. What really lights the candle, so to speak. Even if the origins of either holiday are lost in the vapors of history:
“In the pre-Christian era, as the
winter solstice approached and the plants died, pagans brought evergreen boughs
into their homes as an act of sympathetic magic, intended to guard the life
essences of the plants until spring. This custom was later appropriated by
Northern Europeans and eventually it becomes the so-called Christmas tree.”
-- Sheldon Cooper, on the festival Saturnalia
Though one episode of the Big Bang Theory encapsulates this spirit, the warmth and happiness we try and create by spending money and giving lavish gifts. Receiving might be nice, yet as we continually discover, anticipating is better, and giving—and waiting—is best.
In the season 2 episode, The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis, Sheldon feels “obligated” to return Penny’s well-meaning Christmas gift and toils over “reciprocity.” Eventually, Sheldon purchases an array of bath-sets, of varying items and expenses, to be fully prepared for whichever gift Penny bestowed.
Sheldon, however, lacked one simple lesson: it’s the thought that counts. That thought—and in Penny’s case, a massive stroke of luck.
As we know from the episode, Leonard Nimoy, the actor and
genius behind Spock from the original
Star Trek, signs a Cheesecake Factory
napkin for Penny. She gives this napkin (complete with his DNA) to Sheldon as a
present. One person’s dirty napkin, however, becomes another person’s treasure,
and Sheldon discovers he clearly underestimated friendship’s meaning.
Of knowing someone so well, the smallest, most inexpensive gift becomes the greatest prize of their lives.
So big a prize, five bath-sets and a shaky hug don’t even begin to cover the payback.
I’ll leave you with this inverse Magi’s gift for the holidays, before tomorrow’s Big Bang Theory special. Tune in on CBS!