|Artwork by the author|
One of my college friends started a 30-day project in which we are asked to respond—in any media, in any way that we could better express ourselves—to the questions or other forms of media that she would give us; she is using Facebook as venue for a group of some twenty people to reflect on each others’ response; she believes that the site can be of better use, instead of all of the usual things that we could see, and my friend being a Christian chose to relate her project in Jesus’ relevance to our lives. I participated not because I am a devout Catholic but because I believe that the Divine could participate in a very pragmatic manner in which discussion would help us better understand.
The first weeks prompt pervaded in me with much awkwardness; the question: what do you expect during gift giving sessions? Instead of me thinking of something, memories of my childhood flashed back into my thoughts, or rather relived in my mind.
The year is 1996—I was a kid again! My birthday is near; my parents asked me what I would want most as a gift. Without any hesitation—for I do remember even now what I want—rubber shoes, no not like any other rubber shoes, I wanted Dino Lights! Back then, everyone is wearing them: my classmates, my neighbor, even my senior. It was the craze of the time, the fashion (like iPad, Facebook, and hair rebonding)! I imagined myself wearing the shoes, running while the lights flickered with the speed of my pacing feet. It was a certainty that I would get the shoes. My parents, after all, were serious when they asked me that question, which turned on a thousand light bulbs above my head.
They went to the mall on a Sunday; malls then are not too common (I like it best that way, not the mushrooming SMs that sprouted out of nowhere). They went to Plaza Fair, which is the Rockwell of that era. Earlier, they asked me to get a measure of my foot, which I traced in a bond paper. It was only a matter of time, a thought that I rejoiced over. When the doorbell rang that night, I ran as fast as I can to unlatch the gate and welcomed my parents. And there they have this huge rectangular box it could only be one thing—my shoes!
It was my shoes alright! I was jumping with joy, thanking my parents to no end. However, when the box flipped, it was no Dino Lights but sturdy yellow hiking shoes. My heart was chipped. I was disappointed. Yet I have to keep my smile, I know my parents paid for it (they rarely buy us stuff). And for the succeeding gift-giving occasions it would be so. One Christmas passed and I didn’t get the toy that I wanted. The other time, I didn’t get any worthy of note. There was a time when I have to write to Santa Claus—inspired by the ABS-CBN cartoon, which they air every yuletide season—but even Mr. Claus is too distant. And as we grow up, it is as if gifts are not malleable to our own desires and wants.
I have realized that gifts are blessings that too often shadowed for something that we desired for. We tend to look at the things that we want to get, not what we already have; gifts are a reflection of the people that has given them to us, which for me means that material value is not as important as the person giving them. There is a quote in a book, whose title escapes me now, it says, “a friend is enough a treasure one can acquire in a lifetime.”
I believe that the Unseen Hand gave us, and is continuously giving us gifts be it people (those who nurtures us, and those who tests us), opportunities, situations, experiences, toys, books, things, talents, skills, jobs, dreams, health, and most of all our breath. We just need to look at it as such. I may have seen this in the hard way, or am still telling myself to see whenever I choose not to or can’t.
Nowadays, I could, though I am not saying always, look at gifts not in a manner of expecting but rather of accepting.
*kids (and those that think they are) should still write to Mr. Claus for fun. :)