A.C. Snow

Rendering unto Caesar can be painful – Snow

Ah, yes, the Ides of March are past and the ides of April are not long away. And it’s time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

In other words, it’s tax time again.

Our April 15 tax “Ides” are bad enough, but not as deadly as the March 15, 44 B.C. date when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate.

He had been forewarned by a seer to beware the Ides of March because his life would be in danger. Ignoring the warning, as he passed the seer on his way to the Roman Senate, Caesar joked, “The Ides of March are here,” implying that he was still alive and well.

But enough of Shakespeare and back to taxes.

So we scrounge around for deductions in order to lessen the pain.

This is the time of year when parents look at their children with heightened appreciation. Deductible dependents are pearls of great price in tax time.

What’s deductible and what isn’t doesn’t always seem to make sense.

Shouldn’t I get tax credit for those expensive mealworms I buy for the bluebirds during mating season?

My doc orders me to work out three times a week at the Rex Wellness Center. Can I claim the cost of membership as a medical tax deduction?

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I am advised.

We are excused from paying tax on our church contributions. Yet someone who, say, is addicted to golf and spends his Sabbath mornings communing with God and nature in the great outdoors is not allowed to deduct his golf fees. He may well think that’s unfair.

As poet Emily Dickinson reasoned:

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church;

I keep it, staying at Home,

With a Bobolink for a Chorister,

And an Orchard, for a Dome.

It’s true that there is little levity in sorting through all that detritus, itemizing taxable income and deductible outgo. So you’re entitled to a chuckle from the following anecdote.

A little boy with great faith once wrote God a letter saying he badly needed $100. When the letter arrived at the Post Office, an employee opened the letter addressed to God and sent it along to the White House.

There, another kind-hearted employee, impressed by the lad’s simple faith, slipped a $5 bill in an envelope and mailed it to the youngster.

The recipient promptly sat down and wrote another letter to the Almighty.

“Dear God,” he wrote, “Thank you for answering my prayer. But why did you send it through Washington? They kept $95 of it!”

Now, go back to your taxes. And many happy returns!

Favorite word

Reader Joe Wagner of Durham asked me to share my favorite word.

As a writer of sorts, I of course love words. The one that came to mind as I read Joe’s question was “serendipity.”

The definition, in case you’re curious: “The occurrence and/or development of events by chance that result in a happy or beneficial way.”

For example, a couple of summers ago as I was putting out mealworms for my bluebirds, an impatient female landed on my shoulder and eye-balled me as I shook the worms into the feeder.

Undoubtedly, the most serendipitous moment of my life was when I first saw my future wife.

I had gone with my then best friend to a Greensboro ladies shop to buy a red coat that was on his wife’s Christmas wish list.

A chatty saleslady who brought out a beautiful red coat said, “Anybody would be thrilled to find this coat under her tree on Christmas morning.”

As we were wondering if the coat would fit my friend’s wife, the saleslady said, “I have a customer back in the fitting room who is also buying a red coat. I’ll ask her to model this one for you.”

I was more than impressed by the looks and personality of the “model” during our brief encounter. As she walked away after modeling the coat, I said, “Never mind the coat, I’d be thrilled to find the model under my tree on Christmas morning.”

And that was the start of something good, a serendipity moment that has lasted more than half a century.

You might enjoy contemplating your favorite word or recalling a serendipitous moment in your life.