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A Time for Giving

Making A DifferenceBy Hermie Climaco
Christmas for me is a gift-giving time. Back in the Philippines, I do not let Christmas pass by without wrapping up something, a wallet that costs only five pesos at Baclaran, a set of pens, a brush, a mirror, a piece of handkerchief, a book etc. – for my friends, and family members.

For my family, there has to be a Christmas tree at home where presents for each one are displayed underneath before the family gift-opening day on December 24, minutes before the clock strikes 12 midnight.

At work, my co-workers including myself, would distribute our personal tokens to one another just before our Christmas party begins. Maila, my close friend and immediate supervisor, who always worry about me having a big family with big family expenses, would advise me to avoid spending on Christmas for gift-giving.

But it was hard to refrain from going with the flow of the gift-giving season. I believe no one is poor enough not to be able to give anything away. And no one is rich enough not to appreciate a simple Christmas token that shows he or she is being remembered, or loved.

Besides, money overflows in the Philippines during Christmas. Its the time that employees receive bonuses. Aside from the 13th month salary bonus, there are additional cash gifts and allowances. This adds to the merriment and excitement of the season. And this triggers the buying, the giving and the exchanging of gifts.

When we arrived here in America I learned that Christmas bonuses are unheard of in this country. But I noticed one thing. Giving here does not only happen during Christmas. It happens all the time: the free school bags and supplies, the free meals in school, the free school bus of the children, the free bus rides to the public on selected days, the free turkeys and other foodstuff during thanksgiving, and many more.

My first Christmas memory here in America was kind of a bombshell. My children received bundles and bundles of Christmas gifts from their school delivered to the house by teachers before Christmas break. And, what a delight it was to be presented with three gift cards worth seventy dollars each.

I dont worry anymore now about wrapping Christmas gifts for the children, which I never fail to do back in the Philippines. This has been taken care of. But since there are no bonuses for extra spending in this country on Christmas time, I unlearned my gift-wrapping habit in place of a new one: Writing on Christmas cards.

Now that we are about to celebrate the birthday of Jesus on December 25, I plan to finally sit down with my children to explain to them the real meaning of Christmas. That what they really need are not more toys or a play station, or a game boy. But Jesus Christ. The absence of Christ into ones life triggers the need to acquire for more, more material things that bring no lasting satisfaction.

Now is the time to reflect on the fact that what we needed most, the only thing we really need in life and will give us true satisfaction, has been given to us. Two thousand years ago this same season we received our Greatest Gift: Jesus Christ. This is, therefore, a holy season. We shouldnt miss the holiness and the true value of this season by focusing on that Gift, in spite of the noise and busyness that come with it.

In his Advent Calendar Christian writer Lee Nagel said, We are not to just keep Christ in Christmas, but to bring him out into the world. We are to awaken others, so that whispers of peace and joy will become shouts of Glory to God.
I believe giving is one way of bringing Christ into the world. We can take giving to the next level. That is, aside from our family, friends and loved ones, we might consider how this Christmas we can be able to give to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the beggars and the sick.

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