I grew up in a household of 12 people, which would explain a few things, I'm sure; I just don't know which things.
This being the case, one Christmas Eve in my teenage years, I found myself with 11 people to still buy presents for and only $50.
The Deus ex machina on this occasion was that my $50 was not in change but was rather an unbroken, single $50 note.
How can you give each family member an extremely generous present, with still plenty left over on only $50?
Well, this is my story of how I did it that Christmas all those years ago.
I followed no particular order, but one by one, I called each of my siblings separately into my room, wished them Merry Christmas and gave them a personalised Christmas card with the same $50 note in it.
Consistent with my expectations, each brother and sister were so flabbergasted at this act of heroic virtue that they gave me back my $50 note.
Even my father fell for the big con.
I admit I did start feeling a little guilty when one of my big sisters became all teary, but like someone at the tattoo parlour regretting their tattoo while the tattooist is still only halfway through, I had no other choice but to keep going.
But you know that overused old myth "no one knows you like your mother"?
Well, turns out it might not be a myth after all.
Mum was the only one who worked out that everyone was getting the same $50.
I should have left Mum until last. Maybe she just wanted $50.
I guess I gave the game away when I asked my mother to give me my $50 back.
In the unlikely event that you're feeling sorry for me right now, don't worry; I got Mum back a few years later, and appropriately on Christmas Eve at a midnight Mass.
As the collection plate was coming around and Mum rummaged through her purse for spare change, I nudged my mother and showed her the $20 note I was generously about to put on the plate.
Rising to the occasion, Mum found a $20 note in her purse, which she put in the collection plate when it came to her.
When the collection plate was safely three or four pews behind us, I gently nudged my mother again and revealed I still had my $20 note in my grasp. If you're feeling sorry for my mother right now and musing on what a horrible son I am, remember this - Mum is still $30 up.
I had a teacher at school who told us, "When I'm down in the dumps, I go and buy myself a new dress".
Don't worry, I didn't shout out, "Well Miss, that explains where you get all your outdated fashions".
I am still impressed to this day by the wisdom of her practice.
When somebody has experienced a hard time, and especially in the case of a tragedy in their life, we buy them flowers or a care package or try and do something good for them.
Yet, how often when we are down do we end up treating ourselves worse, rather than better.
If you treat yourself well, you are setting yourself up for the possibility of treating others well. In an airplane crisis, they advise you not to help someone else with their oxygen mask until you have yours on properly first.
In his excellent 2018 book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Canadian clinical psychologist Professor Jordan Peterson tries to explain the somewhat inexplicable phenomenon of why so many sick people do not take their pills.
These same people would insist that a loved one and especially their child take their medicine.
His solution to this dilemma is his second rule: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
Jesus said, "love your neighbour as yourself" not more than yourself, and certainly not instead of yourself.
If you treat yourself well, you are setting yourself up for the possibility of treating others well.
In an airplane crisis, they advise you not to help someone else with their oxygen mask until you have your own on properly first.
If it's been a tough year for you, don't feel selfish for taking care of yourself.
When you can breathe easy, you're a better prospect for helping others do the same. Happy New Year.