Christmas, Shopping, and Me

It’s exactly a week to go till Christmas. Are you done with your shopping? A friend of mine asked me this question a few nights ago and my husband replied for me, “What done with her shopping? She’s never done with her shopping, she shops the whole-year round!” I have to admit that he knows me sooo well. But before you think I’m a shopaholic who wipes off my man’s credit card in the blink of an eye, I’m sure you’ll all agree that we women just love bargains…and we know a good sale when we see one. I have so many lines ready to reason with my rational mind: it might be the last time they would put this on sale; heaven forbid, I might not sleep if I deprive myself of these shoes, worst, I might dream about it; I deserve it; I will not find this item anywhere else; and lastly, this top looks good on me. My husband has gone shopping with me many times and, I believe, has psyched himself over and over again that he will survive another day in the “wild.” I remember our first trip to the Bulacan Garments Sale. It was a warehouse full of clothes at affordable prices all screaming “buy me, buy me!” My husband was amused at seeing the women, soul sisters all, with a twinkle in their eyes, shopping like there’s no tomorrow. I bought enough stuff which I said and promised to last me a year, but I’ve eaten my words already because in a few months, another sale came up, and again, I bought enough clothes to last me another year. And now the Christmas season is up and running AND there are bazaars everywhere which happen only ONCE A YEAR! So I’m at it again, going to one bazaar after the other. I passed up on the Karl Edward Bazaar at The Fort because this bazaar I can visit even after the holidays are over. But I enjoy going here and I’ve also met some sukis through the years. I was just disappointed the last time I went (mid-September) because there were lots of stalls selling fake LeSportSac bags. Fine, they may even pass for the real thing but the fact is, they aren’t, and they should be better off sold somewhere else, not in this bazaar that has already built a good reputation.

The bazaar I have been waiting for for the longest time was the St. James the Great Bazaar in Alabang. For the past years, it has gathered a following because of its many great finds you cannot see anywhere else. Sadly, this year was a disappointment. The aisles were just too narrow, the organizers should have posted one-way signs for them, and what’s with all the accessories? I have never been an accessory/jewellery person, but I’ve always admired them on display. In fact, I have even bought myself some chunky beaded necklace, trying to convince myself that it looks smart on me even if its weight bothers me, only to store it in a box I hardly open. But the accessories being sold that day on the bazaar were overwhelming! There were stalls and more stalls selling almost the same thing. Even the clothes being sold all looked alike. I think the screening committee was just too lax this year. Now I’m having second thoughs of going to next year’s bazaar.

The bazaar I’ve enjoyed going to this December was the Bantay Bata World Trade Bazaar. We brought Zoe along with us and she enjoyed it as much as we did. There was a “real” Santa Claus on duty, eager to pose for the camera and greet the kids. Zoe was speechless, she couldn’t believe that she was seeing Santa in person. There were also lots of Santa and Christmas decors for sale. The mood was festive. There were enough stalls with different goods to sell and there were great bargains. The food, though, was a tad bit pricey. Imagine, Purefoods hotdog-on-stick being sold for Php45! Overall, I had a great time but we were kinda in a hurry so I vowed to return some other day. I went back to the bazaar yesterday, their last day. I decided to go by myself this time and leave Zoe at home, which was a wise decision when I saw the crowd. The place was pretty crowded but you could still easily maneuver yourself through the aisles. Because there was airconditioning, it was still quite comfortable. A lot of stalls were selling everything for Php100. I had a great time just being there where the action was and went home giddy and satisfied.

Divisoria, of course, is still the best bargain center of all. Where else can you find everything but here? However, Divisoria is not for the faint-hearted, and getting there is, in itself, a challenge because of the traffic you have to endure, not to mention the stress you get in finding a parking space. But the thrill you get in finding the cheapest items and in haggling for the best price makes the trip to Divi so worth it.

Shopping IS fun, especially come Christmas time when you get to shop for others aside from yourself and your family. It becomes special when you spend time thinking of the person you’ll be giving the gift to and wondering what would bring a smile on his or her face. I don’t consider myself a Christmas person in the commercial sense of the word. In fact, I’m one of those people who cringe at all the gifts that need to be given and received for the sake of the Christmas spirit. I feel that we’re missing the point. We’re so caught up in the flurry of activities (gifts to wrap, what to cook, what to wear) that we kinda forget to prepare ourselves for His coming. How many of us can just be happy in celebrating Christ’s birthday and in welcoming Him into our hearts? How many of us say a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the abundance we’ve received this year? They say Christmas is for kids, and I agree. I just hope that our kids know why there is a Christmas. My daughter Zoe believes it’s Santa’s birthday on Christmas. I can’t blame her though because Santa is everywhere. Frosty the Snowman comes close. We’re trying to open her eyes to the truth and, slowly, she has come to notice Baby Jesus in the belen that we have at home. The belen, for me, symbolizes Christmas more than the Christmas tree, and I wish every home could have one. I have seen The Nativity Story and I recommend it to everyone. There’s nothing new, really. No controversies a la The Da Vinci Code, just the story of Jesus born in the manger, and we know this story already, but it is a story that we can relive over and over again because it is real and true. This is one movie where I wished there were long lines and the theater was full. Sadly, the scene wasn’t like that at all. The people were all lining up to see Happy Feet instead (I know this is a great movie, too).

In our last year’s trip to Baguio, we noticed a sign hanging on the Baguio Cathedral’s doorway. It read, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” I felt a tug in my heart when I read it. After all the shopping frenzy brought about by the holidays and the frantic preparation for the family gatherings we have to go to, I hope we can all have a meaningful Christmas by welcoming Christ into our homes and remembering the reason we celebrate Christmas.

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December 18, 2006. General.

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