A Huffington Post Photo
The holiday season is finally over. Everything is getting back to normal. You notice it when the bills start pouring in, a grim reminder of that profligate time when the onslaught of sales ads enticed you, tempted you, and made you believe your pockets were deeper than you thought.
I spent over $4,000 in gifts and got nothing in return. As they say, it’s better to give than to receive. I guess it’s also better than getting something you don’t like. I’m a very difficult person to buy presents for, anyway. When my folks ask what I want for Christmas, I usually give the “don’t bother” answer. But still I can’t avoid this awkward feeling on Christmas eve when I see everybody opening their presents and I have nothing on my hands except the garbage bag to put the discarded wrappers in.
My indifference towards receiving gifts probably started when I graduated salutatorian in grade school in the Philippines. Since we were poor, it was quite a surprise to receive many gifts from my mother and aunt. My jealous classmates were begging that I unwrap the gifts right there and there to see what I got, but I didn’t succumb to pressure following my aunt’s instructions.
The biggest surprise was when I opened the gifts at home. They were either empty or full of rocks. They weren’t what I imagined them to be like the much dreamt of BB gun or a new pair of shoes. The only real gift that I received was a blue Hawaiian shirt from my grandmother and it wasn’t even wrapped. When my father, who didn’t attend the graduation, learned about it, he became very upset. He blamed my aunt for concocting such a stupid idea and my mother for going along with it. A few weeks later, he bought me a BB gun.
For some logic that a salutatorian couldn’t understand, my mother and aunt explained that because of my accomplishments people expected that I should receive many gifts. The fake gifts were to meet that expectation and save me from embarrassment in their eyes. Thank goodness! It would be the first and last time I would experience that kind of disappointment. In high school, I lost most of my brain capacity when hormones started to kick in. I would never be an honor student again.
Looking back, I still feel cheated, but the hurt and the anger have long been gone. More importantly, I believe now that they did it for love and that was good enough to forgive and forget.