Tony Samson-125


YES. Christmas is already here (almost), even if the pink Christmas lanterns are still awaiting the truck delivery.

Is it too late to make your gift list? You would already have gotten gifts intended for you and what hasn’t arrived yet probably never will. The frenzy is to reciprocate gifts given from unexpected sources. Passing on gifts from other sources can be risky as the recipient may have gotten the same gift from the same giver. (It’s even the same color.)

Still, as one gets older, godchildren have aged and tend to have jobs of their own with a compensation package bigger than yours, if they haven’t been canned yet in the pandemic. They are no longer too expectant of cash gifts equivalent to a fast-food outing without movies.

The perfect gift is defined as something a recipient has always wanted like the latest all-wheel-drive Volvo. (Last year’s unsold models are going for large discounts… but not large enough.)

Gift-giving at Christmas is becoming more of a social ritual than a meaningful expression of fondness. The budget looms large for the perfect gift in these trying times.

It is best to give gifts whose prices are difficult for the recipient to pin down. Wine works for the non-wine drinker, especially one who thinks that grape juice if kept long enough can be served with Angus beef and that a screw-top bottle handily does away with the need for a corkscrew.

Crafts, like clay mugs or stitched purses, bought at the ubiquitous pop-up stalls also mask their true value. Few know what hand-made earrings are worth. It is important to determine the erudition of a gift recipient. A wine connoisseur who buys wine by vintage years and can read French labels with the correct pronunciation (Chateau Margeaux has a silent “x”) should be given the clay mug with a nice quote (Life is full of seconds) instead of the screw top Cabernet.

Donations to charity also serve as gifts, evidenced by a tatty card with a photo of abandoned children, which says that a donation of P2 million has been made to Needy Ones (like other family members) in your name. This is given to a wide number of recipients just like Christmas cards. Getting a note like this requires some reciprocation. Why not give a similar card designating another organization — Needier Ones? What the heck — double the donation while you’re at it?

One gets many unhoped-for gifts for Christmas. Someone in one’s gift list is certain to appreciate silky boxer shorts, adorned with Darth Vader in front (guess where the laser sword is located) and “May the Force be with you” at the back. Such gifts can be donated to the neighborhood “White Elephant” bazaar.

A special gift problem arises for executives in a company whose management is in transition with a “COO” poised to shortly change the middle letter to “E.” If a new boss has been announced in October to take over the company at the start of the incoming year, what gifts do the “direct reports” choose? Do they give the more expensive item to the incoming boss who was not even in his gift list last year? How will the outgoing one feel about that? Giving lavish gifts to a prospective boss can smack of “corporate politicking” by the recipient. Besides, not all plans work out the way they’re supposed to.

It’s always better to wait till next Christmas. For the truly slurpy types, there is still Chinese New Year.

Companies give generic gifts to customers and friends, appropriately called “giveaways.” These are categorized into three classes with the most expensive going to the “A” list, like hand luggage, mini refs, grocery baskets with jamon serrano and that wine with the silent “X,” and leather holders for vaccination cards. Umbrellas are for mass distribution and end up with the employees’ relatives and friends. Are desk diaries still in vogue with the smart phones taking over the appointment chores?

Christmas gifts are an indicator of power and influence more than affection. Someone who has slipped from the hierarchical pedestal is the first to notice the lowering of the quantity and quality of Christmas gifts received. The volume is usually transportable inside the glove compartment of a Grab cycle.

All we want for Christmas is really a sense of peace and contentment and a prayer of thanks for surviving the pandemic… so far.


Tony Samson is chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda