How Giving becomes Relieving

As I was sitting in a mall’s food gallery, in my mind popped the lines of a Jose Mari Chan song, “watching busy shoppers rushing about, in the cool breeze of December”. How appropriate (well, except for the cool breeze; there was air conditioning. But the breeze nonetheless was cool outside). People actually seemed to be rushing about. All sorts of people- adults, children (I suppose of different income strata) are all over. It wasn’t like this before. Oh silly me; of course, it’s Christmas season. On one corner, there would be people who would reply, “Happy New Year na”, when greeted with “Merry Christmas”, implying a strict observance of the passing of the 25th day and its associated customs, and moving on to the next holiday. On the other corner, the gift wrapping queue was time wastingly lengthy well after the actual Christmas Day. (So, we had to go for an eco-bag.) It is remarkable how the practice of the tradition continues on its height even at a time when it should supposedly be slowly waning down. Maybe, people just didn’t prepare early or on time enough. Maybe clients were just too many that the mall wrappers could not just accommodate them all just in time. (I don’t think quite so. Gift-givers could just easily opt another way.) Interestingly, that line of generous givers testify the act of giving which I believe, is not based on the dictates of December 25. It would be simply ridiculously out of date to blow up a firecracker after January 1, go out on a Valentine’s Date after February 14, go on Lenten meditations after Holy Week, or hold a summer camp on June. But gratefully, this is not so with gift-giving after Christmas. It seems that people would continue to give even after the season’s summit. One may argue for the superficiality of Christmas gifts, that it’s practiced to satisfy the tradition of godparenthood, or the mutuality of exchange gifts, but the will to go out, pick something pleasurable for a person, and queuing up to have it wrapped when people are slowly starting to talk about New Year superstitions, is a testament that people would give for the sake of giving. For whatever it’s worth, this spirit of generosity is worth noting, a big point against self-centeredness which is associated with the current generation. Now, we’re advancing to the spirit that “it doesn’t take Christmas to give”.

Remarkably, it seems that everyone has money to spend. People have been all over the malls. The malls have been packed, from the high class malls to the shops catering to low income clients. People are just all over. You could tell that they are not there to stroll, because they would actually sit inside the food shops for a time to actually order and eat. Now’s that’s spending money. Even if a group of people just go to the mall to simply stroll, (which we’ve ruled out anyway) just the cash for transport fare and the time diverted from potentially income augmenting projects, tell that they have money and time to spare. Some would joke, “who says Filipinos are poor?”. The financial resources may come from local employment, local business, remittances from foreign country, savings, but evidence still suggests that people got cash. The economy is alive and kicking as hard as it can. Consumers have the finances to spend and hopefully get satisfied. Business proprietors earn a healthy income. Employees get a lot to work on for their salary’s worth. So, every component in the cash chain gets his keep. Now, I hope I’m not being insensitive in reacting, “now, who’s poor?”. In this season, businessmen seem to invest more. Buyers seem to spend more. Employees seem to be more willing to work more for more. Relatives from abroad seem to send more. There seems to be more to go around. So, regardless of how you perceive Christmas, a season that promotes giving is beneficial to all members of the community on most accounts. (Well, that is, except if you are one of the persons who hits the lowest level of depression on Christmas Day due to the highlight of loss of family or relationship. There is valid data about this phenomenon. We extend our prayers and to persons in such cases.) So, it takes an exercise of giving for business to flourish and families get money to send and spend. So, why not give the rest of the year? (Well, of course, at some point, it has to rest.)

It’s simply gladdening that this progress coincides with the “we don’t have to light firecrackers to celebrate New Year” spirit. Now, if we could also leave the round frits on the table on New Year’s Eve. Oh well, I guess, we could live with that. It’s not very harmful anyway.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” 2 Corinthians 9:6