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Friday, February 5, 2010

How I bought Gifts for My Nephews and Niece

I realized it is not easy to be a true gift giver. Today, I went to the mall to buy stuff for my nephews and niece back home. I thought it wouldn't be that hard; I even ignored the annoying pains my shoes were starting to give me. I thought: 1 hour. Not hard. Not like choosing a pair of shoes or dress for myself. Just stuff for kids; it should be busy.

Any loving and sweet aunt would want to buy her nephews exactly what they say they want. In my case, it's a dictionary (not just any dictionary; a dictionary for kids, colors, illustrations, example sentences and everything) and a Puff, the Magic Dragon story book.

Puff, the Magic Dragon is a really short story, one could just download it from the net and print it. But for an aunt to tell this to a 3 year old is not being sweet or endearing (which is how aunts should be). I figured, that dragon story had to be in a glossy paper with drawings of Puff (who is the dragon) and Jackie (the boy there) playing by the sea.

To shop in a bookstore like National bookstore can be sometimes stressful, especially when it's a children's book you are looking for. Besides that some customer service personnel can be so discouraging, there are just a bunch of stuff to choose from. Just looking at all those books made me forget about what I was really looking for. For like an hour or more, I found myself getting a hold of 3 books. After minutes of debating with myself, I asked again, "what does he really want?" Well I remembered it's a Puff, the Magic Dragon story book so I asked one of the frowning salesladies to help me. With a sad and dry face, she told me it was out for bargain sale.

Saleslady: It's hard to find it. It's probably ugly now. It's probably even misplaced in the business section. (And I would not bother looking for it - with my bad mood and everything.)

I get it.

I had to forget about Puff. Looking for the best alternative, I decided to buy him a collection of stories, I believe every child should know. The Gingerbread Man. The Ugly Duckling. The Emperor's New Clothes. I even had to remind myself of the importance of my decision at the moment. It would influence my nephew's future. It would spark his interest in literature which is a springboard to other worlds for him and would help him with skills in critical thinking, in decision making and judging what is good and what is not. Then suddenly I remembered my Mom: how she surprised me with books when I was little, how my first story book, William Tell made me realize that amidst all the difficulties of life, there will always be a way out. And then we become better persons. I was touched but I could not be so emotional. I had to decide fast and well.

A collection of stories for my 3 year old nephew, it is.

It was not that hard choosing a book for my 7 year old nephew. Just beside the story book was a Collin's illustrated dictionary for 5 years old and up. Good one. A little expensive but it's okay. And his birthday is coming up. It dawned on me, that choosing a gift does not only depend on what the recipient wanted. It is also a matter of asking whether they are worth the price. An expensive item becomes affordable when it is for someone worth the expense.

Choosing stuff for infants is another challenging thing to do. Especially when your legs are already in pain. It is challenging, but very interesting, especially if it's for a little girl. I realized that deciding on the gift in itself is a deeply relational thing. I could have decided to buy her a toy. But no, I did not want her to play; I wanted to see her in a beautiful, pink blouse for people to marvel at her. I felt beauty had to be celebrated and I wanted her to celebrate with me. I realized later it was my heart I was trying to give her and that it was more expensive than the blouse.

Besides the kind or the price, size is also one big issue in buying for someone, especially when we are talking about a breastfed, fast-growing chubby 1 year old boy. The last time I saw him was a month ago. Who knows how much he has grown since then. And so, here is when we try to make the best judgments. Not too big, nor too small. I was even tempted to buy a big one, to be safe. In case it does not fit him, it goes to his older brother. But no. I was buying a gift for him. Not for anyone else. It had to fit just right.

I took a silent sigh of relief when I was already at the counter, paying. I looked at the things I bought and I was proud and happy for myself. I was also excited for my nephews and niece to get them. I realized I have been a young child once. I know how it feels to receive gifts. I was not a gift connoisseur but I quite knew which ones were given from the heart. I do not know. I just knew. It is not material things we give to children. It is our heart that we share to them, which to me is priceless, can not be on bargain sale, and will always be worth the pain in the legs.


  1. this is such a wonderful narrative jill! it's even more vivid for me coz i know and have seen your family,hehehe...i am awestruck =)...keep it up. you got it all what it takes to be a good writer. congratulations to you and to your mama. i am sure she's happy to see the fruits of the seeds she sowed in you. Godbless.

    -jill e.

  2. hi jill, thank you :) yeah, im thankful to my mom.. it is easier for me to be generous because of how she raised us.. it has also been by God's grace that i am able to speak out my heart.. By the way, Jill.. did you follow my blog? you are not in my followers list man gud..