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Giving gifts is the only way I can say I love you

Editor’s Note: Christmas is labeled as the season of many things. It is called the season of family, of love, and interestingly enough, of gift-giving.

This December, we explore what it means to give and to receive— and what that exchange could imply— in a series of personal essays. Here, Rogin Losa describes how gifts can physically affirm feelings of love that can’t be verbalized.

Put some effort on your goddamn gifts this year. Please, I’m begging you.

Yes, I admit, there are four other love languages. But we all try to avoid giving importance on the act of gift-giving as much as possible. There is so much drama and anxiety surrounding it. We have internal debates within ourselves, forming a line of questioning just to avoid it: What if it’s too expensive? Would Person A like it? Should I get them an embroidered towel with their name on it?

Read more: For Christmas, give me FILA Disruptors

We ask, and ask, and ask—until we fall into a spiral and accomplish nothing. Then, we rationalize and form easy outs. We say stuff during Christmas like: I’m saving up this year, I didn’t even get my parents anything, I don’t subscribe to capitalistic indulgences, or at worst, I’m a bad gift giver. 

That might be the worst excuse. I’m a bad gift giver. Why? It’s because they don’t exist. 

Growing up as a non-Catholic, Christmas never made me feel anything. I like how I got to stay up late and sleep all day, the parties we had in our respective classrooms, and how the fairy lights and parols lit up the whole country. But I wouldn’t cry if I didn’t get to celebrate it. I wouldn’t cry if I didn’t get invited to any of my homies’ Christmas potluck.

During Christmas, giving presents is the only thing I gave a damn about. 

Gift-giving is commercialized, a hassle, and overall, materialistic. So why is it a form of ‘I love you’ to people who have trouble saying it?

Edgy atheists and agnostics frown upon Christmas as it is commercialized as fuck. Big businesses and government offices tend to exploit this season of love. But all these conglomerates care about is people’s money. So of course, anyone who believes this has a point. 

Gift-giving is commercialized, a hassle, and overall, materialistic. So why is it a form of ‘I love you’ to people who have trouble saying it?

As someone who’s a full-pledged Aquarian, I am emotionally constipated 365 days a year. The mere exceptions are birthdays of the people I care about and Christmas. I don’t really give a fuck if Christmas belongs to the Christians or Pagans. If anything, it has and always will belong to the people we care about.

If you’re like me who is continuing to learn how to say “sorry” and “I love you” without fear, the act of gift-giving feels freeing. There are a few words to be said. When you hand someone a gift, we’re saying: I saw this and thought of you. I think of you often and fondly. I thought of how wonderful you are and I’m thankful that you’re still alive. My gratitude for your existence will forever be unquantifiable. But until modern science (or my pride) can learn to explain these emotions, I hope this object shows how much you mean to me.

Read more: How a holiday cynic like me learned to appreciate Christmas

Emotions are rarely tangible. With objects like gifts, we are somehow reminded of our worth in this rat race. We’re reminded that we’re worth the hassle, the traffic, and the mental gymnastics of whether gift-giving is succumbing to capitalism or not. Sure, receiving embroidered towels count too.

Like I said, bad gift-givers do not exist. But people who never put in the effort do. 

Gift-giving is only materialistic and manipulative if you want it to be.

Gift-giving is only materialistic and manipulative if you want it to be. If you expect anything in return, just don’t. Most people you give gifts to will never give you anything back. Sometimes, they would re-gift it or let it gather dust on their shelves. But that’s love—we get it back or we don’t. And if we don’t, there’s always next year and the faint reminder that we tried. 

I’m never good with emotions. To be frank, I’m not sure if I am a good gift-giver at all. But please remember that people like me tried. Please remember, in a mundane hour of my day, I thought of you. We’re not sure if you’d like what we’ve given. But this gift is a reminder that we love what you’ve given us. 

And in turn, time, effort, or just a thought—we’ll always love what you’ll give us. No matter what it is.

Art by Cathy Dizon


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