A local Christmas carol played as Richard wandered around the mall looking for a gift for his wife. It was almost Christmas and he still had not gotten her anything. They had promised not to give each other gifts, but knew she knows he always breaks that promise. He stepped inside a jewelry store, admiring a simple pearl and gold chain necklace. Maya would love it, just as much as she would love the cheapest pair of fancy earrings. It would not matter what he gave. She would cherish it because he gave it. Sighing, he left, still empty-handed. What do i give her? Someone handed him a flyer, and he accepted it distractedly. A quick read and a smile formed on his lips. He had an idea.
It was an hour before midnight and Misa de Gallo had just been concluded. People were crowding at the door, eager to go home and prepare their Noche Buena feast. Richard grabbed Maya’s arm just as she was about to follow the children filing out of the church. “Don’t go yet, sweetheart.”
“Ha? Pero, sweetheart, yung mga bata,” she said, concerned that they might look for them.
“They already know, tsaka, sandali lang naman ito,” he said, taking her hand and heading to another exit that lead to the back of the church.
“Eh saan ba tayo pupunta?”
He grinned at her. “To see your gift.” They turned the corner. “TADA!” Maya gasped in wonderment and surprise. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart!”
A huge tree stood at the center, gaily lighted and heavily decorated with little ornaments that covered all the branches. There was another, bigger tree at the front but this looked different and was more beautiful.
She laughed softly. “Sa akin yang puno na yan?”
“Well, yes, in a way,” he said, smiling tenderly at the expression on her face. “I bought that tree from the charity that makes and sells them every Christmas and donated it to this church. The decorations, pinakyaw ko na yung sa simbahan. I had to order more pa nga para matakpan yung puno.”
She giggled. The church ministry had a little fund-raising project where they sold Christmas decorations, also made by their chosen charity, and those who bought could either keep it or have it hung at the bigger tree at the front. It was also already full of the little ornaments. She turned to him, puzzled.
“I was thinking of a gift for you, pero nahirapan ako,” he explained, “I tried to think of what you would want, but all I could think about is you. Who you are as a person.” He paused then cupped her face, looking solemnly into her eyes, “we are so blessed, sweetheart. I can give you almost everything, materially, and I know that whatever you want, you can have now….so I chose to do this, instead of buying you a gift.”
“Ha?” She responded softly.
He smiled again. “Di ba, nung birthday ko dati, you organized a birthday party for me sa orphanage? The party was for me, but you were also thinking of how it would make the children happy.” He took a deep breath then continued, “I did this because giving back and making others happy would make you happy. This was all done under the name of Maya Lim. I wanted to honor my wife, who is the most generous person I know.”
Chuckling, he told her, “but if you want a different gift, I could still give you that.”
She shook her head, reaching up to give him a tight hug. “Thank you,” she said, touched.
He hugged her back. “Do you like it?”
“I love it!” She loosened her hold so she could see his face. “Tama ka na wala na akong mahihiling pa, because I have the best husband in the world, who is the most generous person I know.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Bola!” They laughed. She snaked an arm round his waist as she admired the tree once more.
“Merry Christmas, Daddy, Mommy!” The children greeted loudly behind them. A round of kisses followed.
“How do you like your gift, mommy?” Abby asked.
“Siempre, gustong-gusto, Abby!” Maya exclaimed.
Behind her, Richard whispered, “lahat sila tumulong sa pagsabit ng decorations. Pati yung kambal, marunong na.”
“Talaga? Ang galing naman. Thank you, Sky! Thank you, Sunshine!” She said,bending to kiss them both. “Thank you!” She spread her arms wide to give her older children a big hug.
Laughing, Luke spoke up. “You’re welcome, mommy. Puede na ba tayong umuwi? Ginugutom na ako.”
“Haay, Kuya, you’re always thinking of your stomach,” Nikki complained good-naturedly.
“Ay, oo, sige, mag-ha-hating-gabi na nga pala,” Maya said, ushering them forward. She hung back, intertwining her hand with her husband’s. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” she smiled into his eyes.
“Merry Christmas,” he said, and their lips met for a sweet kiss, interrupted by the children who had turned back and were teasing them loudly. Laughing, they joined them and the family celebrated another beautiful and meaningful Christmas.