Gifts: A Stress to Give, A Joy to Receive

Ah, the holidays. Full of happiness, traffic, parties, and stress. Can we even say Christmas is near if don’t get stuck in traffic on the road or in the mall? Can we even convince ourselves that we have the Christmas spirit in us if we don’t suffer from cashier/ gift wrapping lines as long as NLEX? I don’t think so.

While I do agree that the holidays are quite merry, people do tend to glamorise it so much that we forget the stress involved. The stress of gifts, traffic jams, parties, nosy relatives, and financial issues are quite a formidable force of nature. I’m glad to say though that most of us have developed our own ways of dealing with them over time. Time (and money) management, good music, and epic comebacks are some of the ways people have found to be effective.

Now, you know well as a student that you have to be a bit of a penny-pincher if you even want to think about giving gifts to friends. (I’m assuming you are not rich. If you are, you can actually focus on giving your friends the gifts they like.) What I would suggest is to give every gift a personal touch. Without it, you’d just be giving special giveaways. (Especially if you get them all the same thing!)
It really depends on your strengths. Since I got notebooks from Papemelroti for my close friends, I decided to write a personal letter inside each one. Everyone liked the letters, but one decided to write one back as a gesture of appreciation. I still read that letter up to this day.

On that note about gifts, I didn’t know there were some rules on gift-giving. Well, apparently, the general rules are: you’re not supposed to expect to get a gift back from the person you’re giving a gift to; but if you’re the one being given a gift, it’s usually polite to give one back. I suppose that’s why we re-gift unused gifts, too. Not only because we don’t like the gifts, but also because we can convince ourselves that we’re a good person by giving someone a gift we think they’ll enjoy.

One of my best friend’s friends decided to start the tradition of writing letters on every birthday gift, so I thought, “What if I write letters on gifts for Christmas?”. So I did. Personally, there’s just something really cool about getting a letter from a special friend, and I wanted to share that with people this Christmas season. Also, when someone gives you a letter as a friend, it’s like they’re willing to share a piece of themselves with you on paper for you to treasure. I know I do. (So does my name-sake in Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, but the letters were not read by the intended person, anyways. Whoops, that might have been a spoiler.)

There are some shops that are often visited by people with a low Christmas budget. One of them is Papemelroti, while another one is Miniso (depending on whether your local mall has one of its branches.) Both of them offer nice stuff for generally low prices. Think of Papemelroti as the anthropomorphic representation of the hipster side of Tumblr, and Miniso as the Japanese version of Divisoria. Papemelroti is generally well-known for its locally-sourced notebooks and jewelry, while Miniso is known for having almost everything at affordable prices.

While we can’t really say much on what to give people for Christmas, we do know when to draw the line when it comes to acceptable gifts. People follow different rules, and you might just have to find out on your own what yours are. Yes, you will find out by trial-and error sometimes. But, even if you give the wrong gift, at least your feelings won’t be hurt (much). We all have went to acting school at some point because of horrible gifts. (Because we all say thank you for the fact that the person thought of us enough to give us a gift, right?)

I’m either old or broke enough to know that Christmas can’t be defined by giving gifts. It can neither be defined by family gatherings nor the birth of Jesus Christ on its own. (Even if I’m a Christian, some non-believers do celebrate Christmas.) What I do know is that everyone may have their own reasons why they celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because everyone is focused on one thing that unites us: spreading joy. That’s what the holidays are all about.

For the Open-Minded People

I have an open mind. I thought this was a good thing, because my life wouldn’t be so narrow. I learned a lesson: People will try to stuff your mind with things, whether good or bad, and you’re forced to believe and act as if it’s normal, because you have an open mind. It isn’t. Don’t consider everything as normal. Especially when it comes to gender issues, because you never know which places tolerate or condemn gender issues.

See, here in the Philippines, being gay or lesbian is taboo. Parents teach their children like, boys shouldn’t cry because they’re supposed to be tough, and girls should never keep their legs open, because they’re supposed to be demure. If they are challenged, it’s disturbing. This is why same-sex marriages don’t exist here. I mean, should this be considered normal, or condemned? IDK. The Bible may say no, but it’s (I hate to say this, but) normal. Ellen Degeneres is lesbian. One Miss Universe winner is transgender. So many people out there are out and proud.
(Wow, this can be controversial. Seriously, if you are shocked, I assure you, I won’t write about this anymore.) 
Having an open mind can be risky for a Christian. You can accept something and obsess over it so much you forget about God. There are many controversial things out there in the eyes of God. Violence, sorcery, polytheism, horror movies, they abound. Harry Potter has sorcery which God doesn’t like. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus include polytheism. Horror movies are shown to many audiences. Even some video games have violence. I’m not saying you should avoid them like the plague. My Sunday School teacher taught me this: Chew the meat, throw the bones. You should do this if you see something questionable in a book. I think it means to discern. By that we mean: to perceive something in the absence of judgement to learn. It can also be used to explore the trends safely.
Having an open mind can also be great. You get to explore more, and you can understand everyone’s point of view. You rarely feel judgmental, and people appreciate you for that. But sometimes, some people will cross the line and trash talk your preferences and expect you to let it go. That’s when you should stand up to them. Explain that you have boundaries too and you would like it if they stop trash talking your preferences.