Monday, December 31, 2012

RE: Christmas Exchange Gifts

“Exchange gifts” – whether straight-up random exchanging of gifts among participants, “Kris Kringle”, “Secret Santa”, “Manito/Manita”, or whatever variation of it – is a popular feature of the current Christmas season culture we are familiar with.  When done right, it is incredibly fun for everyone.  However, when commercialism starts touching the activity, prices of the gifts are compared and assessed; murmuring and frowns are stirred; disappointment is cultivated on the hearts; and, worst of all, goodwill is ruined – thus, the whole point of “exchange gifts” is killed.

A price standard is set.  “The gift should be worth at least 100 pesos!”  We prepare a good gift.  The gift we prepared might even significantly exceed 100 pesos.  And we expect that the gift we receive in return at least matches the quality and worth of the gift we give.  We don’t want to get terrible clichéd gifts such as calendars, photo albums, or picture frames.  Mugs are tolerated… if of good value or design.  Then, we rage if the worth of the gift we receive is obviously less than the agreed price standard. 

If this is our attitude, well, we should definitely change it.  Because it’s appalling. 

This is also true the other way around: those who intentionally give inferior gifts; who are so cheap to buy something around the decided price standard, making no effort of preparing their best – just preparing something for the sake qualifying for the “exchange gifts”, to exchange their bad gifts for something superior. 

Both cases are wrong because both have the same wrong purpose in participating in “exchange gifts”… and that is, to be able to RECEIVE SOMETHING, and NOT to be able to GIVE SOMETHING.      

Seriously, isn’t Christmas about GIVING?  (That’s why commercialism – with Santa Claus serving as its mascot manifestation – is the greatest threat to the true meaning of Christmas.  Commercialism encourages the expectation of receiving and materialism.)

If everyone’s heart for joining “exchange gifts” is for having the chance to GIVE somebody an awesome gift, then it shall be a very special activity.  There will be good cheer all around.  Bonds and goodwill between participants are strengthened.  Christmas love shall abound.    

If we receive an awesome gift, then good!  But even if we only receive a picture frame or a gift valued lower than the agreed price standard, our cheer should remain intact since our main purpose and joy was preparing a great gift that would put the recipient in high spirits.  Receiving an awesome gift in return is just a bonus.  

I feel terrible whenever this happens:
Someone poor or currently struggling financially, for the sake of Christmas good cheer, decides to join the “exchange gift”.  He or she prepares something less than or just exactly the set gift value.  This could even be one of the frowned-upon gifts of picture frames and mugs – because they’re the only things he or she can afford.  After the gifts are exchanged, the recipient of this poor participant’s gift opens it, and then after seeing the contents, he or she openly – consciously or not – shows his or her displeasure through words or facial expression.  The poor participant, witnessing this, gets humiliated and heartbroken. 

And my heart breaks with them. 

Of course, I would prefer to receive a great gift on “exchange gifts”.  I even loudly state oftentimes – jokingly, of course – that I don’t want to receive a picture frame.  But if the fun and goodwill of it will be ruined because of participants who care more of what they get, I would choose to be the one who receive those inexpensive but sincere gifts from the poor, struggling participants.  I really don’t mind at all what I would get in return – if any at all.  You see, I could be selfish the rest of the year, but when it comes to Christmas – my favorite time of the year – I know how to celebrate it and have the heart for it.     

No comments: