My mother said there were three phases in life: accumulation, stabilization and de-accumulation. I have not only hit the de-accumulation stage but I have moved on to a giving stage and I am much happier than I ever have been.
When I was young I loved "things." Expensive things were not important, but I wanted some kind of object or something to remember where I had been or an event I had gone to.
I could never understand an older person saying "send me a photograph" or "all I want for my birthday is a card." Now, at the de-accumulation and giving part of my life, I understand.
Cards and thoughts at this time of year are so much more important than someone sending a gift. What I love even more is someone who gives a contribution. It helps the economy of our country to make a purchase but there are ways to help the economy and help others too.
NewsCorp participates in a program called "Winter Wishes" through New York Cares. The program helps young people from difficult circumstances by collecting their Christmas wishes and needs and encouraging employees to purchase things for them.
Our editor showed me what she bought for a fifth grader who had sent a letter about her hopes and needs. She was as proud of that as anytime I have ever seen her. She had taken her young daughter with her to help teach her the values of Christmas and the season. What a wonderful time of sharing they had!
I have also been overwhelmed at the generosity of Fox News viewers and readers to our charity, Goats for the Old Goat, for the hungry and former slaves of the new country of South Sudan. I started it for my 60th birthday and people from around the United States have contributed to www.goatsfortheoldgoat.org for the last four months.
I go to sleep thinking of the people in South Sudan and realize that instead of "stuff" for my birthday, people can eat and become self-sustaining.
That is a gift which makes me happier than any object can.
It is what this Christmas and Hanukkah season is about, and is the gift of giving to others who are "the least of these" is the real joy and meaning of the season.
Ellen Ratner is a Fox News contributor and Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service.