This Larkin poem comes to mind at Christmas. It reminds me that we think of ourselves most often before we think of others or the impact we can have. This is seen quite clearly in our attitude to pets. I think back in shame on the neglect of our family dog, bought because of my relentless campaign to get one and my promises to walk him every day.
Take One Home for the Kiddies
On shallow straw, in shadeless glass,
Huddled by empty bowls, they sleep:
No dark, no dam, no earth, no grass –
Mam, get us one of them to keep.
Living toys are something novel,
But it soon wears off somehow.
Fetch the shoebox, fetch the shovel –
Mam, we’re playing funerals now.