Whole lotta love
THE OUTSIDER  - Erwin T. Romulo () - December 14, 2007 - 12:00am

Christmas is fast approaching.
Put aside the traditional bonhomie of the season — all that goodwill and cheer that we’ve been hardwired to feel since birth — and appreciate that awful dilemma of what to give those we love. It’s a peculiar kind of dread, isn’t it? After all, what material object can sum up all those lovely feelings of gratitude (or inadequacy) we feel for certain people, i.e. the ones who you just can’t give love to on Christmas day?

Now, of course, you’re broke. Who isn’t? But there’s the thing: it’ll cost you more if you don’t give them anything.

Ever heard the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts?” Well, leave for the moment all the embarrassing situations that you might have had to use that excuse for and take in the essential truth at the heart of that well-worn sentiment. Got it? Realize that there’s a simple formula that can be gleaned and put into good use for those of us strapped for cash during this season of giving. (Again, who isn’t?)

Put plainly: the more thought spent on figuring out what present you’re giving may reduce in proportion the monetary cost needed. (Not always applicable and results may vary, but anyone who watches this space hardly does it for the wealth of common sense on display.) For example, you might not be able to score tickets to the recent Led Zep 02 Arena gig but maybe those leftover friends from your “dazed and confused” period (now old and fat and boring like you) may appreciate complete discographies of his favorite classic rock acts digitized in high bit-rates on compact disc. Or maybe if he’s balding and corporate, a longhair wig and a bottle of cheap gin? Again, if you have better ideas than these, you’ve already proven me right. (Probably.)

For those who need a bit more prodding, here are some suggestions (with corresponding comments) to consider.

1. BOOKS — With bookstores like Fully Booked and bargain ones such as Booksale there’s really so much in terms of variety and price range that it’s almost impossible not to find something for those on your list that are avid readers. Tip: You’ll find that a good number of titles may have two different editions on the shelves. It’s surprising how disparate the price between the two can be. Cheaper editions, of course, usually tend to be paperbacks but I’ve never met a reader who prefers hardback. Trawling through used books can also yield many surprises. Personal experience has proven that many out-of-print, obscure novels are hidden somewhere there to be found.

2. TOYS — Admittedly these can be pricey but you’ll find that many of the things that adults covet are essentially pieces of plastic. In other words, the emotional investment far outweighs the material appearance of the toy. In Greenhills and other havens that reek of virgins and wet sheets there is a cornucopia of such nostalgia/kitsch. Stores like Fresh! carry the best designer toys and other collectibles. Admittedly, many of the items are expensive but the friendly staff is always on hand to suggest alternatives. You’ll be surprised at the craftsmanship and creative design evident even in the smaller items. Best of all, it’s something people need a lot of convincing to buy for themselves. Combine that with a little research on the intended recipient’s childhood/adolescence and you may just give them the best gift they have ever received ever.

3. LETTER — This is the cheapest one. It’s still a wonder at how writing something longer than a page about someone can really make an impact. If you really write something long it won’t even matter if it’s e-mail. (Consequently, the shorter it is, the fancier the paper, ink, etc…) You don’t need to be eloquent; just write it plainly and relate significant instances from the past to show why you appreciate that person. Trust me, it works.

Next week, we’ll continue with more specifics.

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Fresh is located at 5 Sgt, Esguerra St cor Timog Avenue in Quezon City. Call 412-8786.       

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