It’s December and by this time almost everyone is planning for wise spending for shopping this Christmas. And this often means Divisoria or tiangge at the Quezon Memorial Circle. If you live in QC, the front of Quezon City Hall is also a good place to shop at low prices. I believe there’s also one in Fairview.
But before you go charging to the malls or tiangge, stop and think about what the shopping is about. And I don’t mean the meaning of Christmas or Christ’s birth because shopping and gift giving have nothing to do with it. Christ was born to witness to God’s truth—that salvation from sins is found in no other than Jesus Christ. You have to repent from sins and surrender your life to Jesus. Where do shopping and gift giving fit into that?
But it has become tradition to shop for gifts at Christmas. Have you bothered to ask why? Is it okay not to give gifts at all? Tradition says it’s MORTAL SIN, but that’s only tradition that people invented—especially people in business—and sometimes enforced by the church. But really, it’s not a sin not to give gifts during Yuletide. Nowhere in the bible it says that.
You may keep all your 13th month and bonus intact to yourself or use it as capital for starting a business. It’s okay. Then when you have prospered, you may give all the gifts you desire to people (especially your enemies and those who hate you) all year round, not just Christmas. God will love that!
But if you’re really hooked into this gift-giving Christmas thing, then you should at least understand what it is about.
Not a Contest
First, it’s not a contest of who’s giving the most costly gift of all. There’s this Christmas notion that you should give the best gift your money can afford. Or at least, you should buy the best quality, so you see people searching the whole earth (or at least the whole of Divisoria) looking for the best gift their money can buy. Imagine the needless stress. Do you really have to do that? “Well, it proves how much you love the person you’d give the gift to!” they’d reason.
Listen to this—truth is, material gifts can never really embody true love for a person, and especially its depth. If that were so, then God would have just given us material things instead of sending His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross. You want to show someone how much he or she really means to you? Show it the year round, every year. Spend quality time. And listen well to the person during your conversations. Be genuinely interested about him or her. Then at Christmas time, just give the person a simple something to show you remembered. That’s wise shopping.
But if you’re rich like Pepito Manaloto and you love giving expensive gifts to people, why not? By all means! And include me in your list. But if you belong to the lower middle income group, read on.
There are people in our lives we cannot be with daily. But they are special to us and we’d like to show them that. What I do is try to set a special date with them for chats—once or twice a year. Thank God you can actually do this more often online via social sites. And they’d appreciate it each time.
Simple but Useful
The gift should be simple, practical and useful. A handkerchief or a pen is so useful to almost everyone (but not a planner. Not everyone plans). I really appreciate pens you click to open, big hankies, a pair of shorts or cheap shirts, to name a few. I don’t look for quality, either material or price-wise. I appreciate the thought.
I budget P50 per person in my shopping list. If I have to give to 20 people, that’s only P1,000 expense. Sometimes, I even find something better at P35 or P20. I don’t give gifts to prove I can give something costly, and definitely I don’t believe I can show how much I really care for someone through the quality of the gifts I give. That’s just TV commercial mumbo-jumbo. Don’t be duped by that.
And because Jesus said “Do to others what you’d like them to do to you,” I make it a point to give something simple, practical and useful and also gladly receive the same from others. If I get a pair of shorts worth P25, and it looks like it was bought from a secondhand tiangge store, I’d be happy with that. At least, I was remembered. And anyway, I can always wrap that up again and give it to another person 😀 .
No Big Deal
Don’t make a big deal of Christmas shopping. Just give simple gifts to show you remembered people in your life. If you like to give to a friend in dire need of money, simply give him cash instead of searching out the whole land just to give the “right gift” for him. As I said, it should be simple, practical and useful.
Most of all, buying or sourcing the gift shouldn’t stress you out. Look for a department store or tiangge nearest you (there’s bound to be one during Christmas) and shop there and relax and be happy.
Finally, you know what’s really important during Christmas? It’s finding quality time in some quiet and relaxing place, and reading the real account of Jesus’ birth and ministry in the bible, and taking it all in. Give that gift to yourself.