All I want for Christmas

I saw this photo on a friend’s timeline and it reminded me of all the gifts I asked for when I got married.
We purposely did not have a gift registry because we were going to live with Mom. Her house is fully equipped and we did not really need anything new. Plus, we were both a bit embarrassed about asking people to spend money on us.
Instead, whenever friends asked what we wanted, I asked for help with wedding preparations. As soon as I asked Maan to be my bridesmaid, she asked what she could give me. I told her my budget for the sound system and music for the reception and asked her to do the leg work. Then I asked two of my closest friends, Solvie and Jay, to be hosts for the wedding. The three of them sat down and gave husband and I a most memorable wedding reception.
We were both having so much fun with the surprises our friends had in store for us that our photographer had to order us to go around tables to take souvenir photos with our guests! Incidentally, the photographer was referred by a friend from whom I had asked for help.
To this day, the bestest gift I have ever handed anyone was my wedding bouquet. It was given lovingly to Liza Lopez (of Tulay), who proceeded to get married one year after I did.
In a previous article, I wrote how my children are used to not receiving gifts from me or Tatay. They get a budget on their birthdays and go shopping to their hearts’ content. They have gotten into the habit of not looking for gifts, and not expecting gifts from people on their birthdays or during the holidays. I think that makes any gift they receive more precious.
Shobe remembers the giver of each of her toys. Whenever the girls play, I hear them listing down toys they were retrieving and attribute them to the givers: A’s dogs, C’s nail polish, K’s bag, M’s mirror.
With the family slowly getting into a zero-waste lifestyle, I’m looking for gifts that have lower carbon footprints. That means buying local. The best gift is no gift, but the girls really want to give Christmas gifts to friends and teachers.
In the past, the gifts we gave were mostly knickknacks that would save us money like rubber stamps, fans, tiny notebooks, rub-on tattoos, and last year’s hit gift: plastic back scratchers shaped like a hand. By the end of the school Christmas party, the children were using them as swords.
That some of the gifts were locally made and had low environmental impacts were simply a bonus:
• plain masks that receivers have to paint for themselves;
• upcycled personalized bottles – I got various small jars, spray painted some, decoupage-d some, wrapped others in yarn, then filled them up with old-school Filipino treats like Flat Tops, Nips, White Rabbit, Haw Haw Milk Candy, Chocnut;
• hand-made soaps for teachers (no, I did not make the soaps);
• small table ware made of acacia; and
• highland red rice which I divvied up into little cloth pouches.
Once in high school, Achi can start thinking of gifts that she can give to her friends. She saw the ethical pyramid and likes the idea, probably because she really does not want to go shopping for gifts, so making her own would be ideal.

If I am to have my own inverted gift pyramid, its top plank would be time. With my hectic life, the time I spend with friends are infinite treasures.
Last October, I had a long three-hour coffee date with a friend. She said, “Buti nagkaroon ka ng free time.” I smiled inside. Nope, I really had no free time to speak of, but I love her to bits and I made time for her when she asked me for coffee. Marking papers and writing my column for Tulay could wait.
The next plank down would be upcycling. It takes time to upcycle anything. As well, I’m such a klutz with crafts, so time and effort to make something for people I love is a treasure unto itself.
My third plank would be to buy second hand. I always give second-hand books. I am on the lookout for books all year round and when I see a book that’s perfect for a particular friend, I grab it! Even if it’s only January.
I probably should not even have buy on my pyramid, even if it is in the bottom. I actually hate shopping so unless I could give a generic gift in my bulk buy stash, I probably would not give one.
For now, I would like to give my own pyramid to my friends and hope that they could give me these things this Christmas.