My second floor study has a door that leads to a small terrace overlooking the swimming pool in the clubhouse right across the street. There was some noise outside, I looked out, saw the pool and sighed. It’s been weeks since I last had a swim.
I debated whether I should today and decided I couldn’t. Too cold. And too much to do.
Tomorrow’s the girls’ last day in school, there’s going to be the annual Christmas parties and program and although I am not a student, I am doing a lot of the work. I had to go out before lunch to buy T-shirts in a particular shade of green that the girls need for their costume in the Christmas program. I walked under the midday sun, going through each and every clothes store in town, and cursed because I never could understand why the decision about costumes always has to be last minute thing. I had been asking the girls for weeks but whoever is in charge of the school program did not decide with finality until last Monday. Shit, man, don’t these people know how thick the shopping crowds are at this late date? And it’s not like they give the students enough time to go out and buy the costumes for themselves. The girls don’t get home until very late in the afternoon because of rehearsals. So, who else is there to go out and buy the t-shirts in the most baduy shade of green imaginable? And it’s not even a color that the girls will dare wear after the Christmas program unless they want to replace the car’s early warning device should we be unfortunate enough to have car trouble.
And then there’s the food for the class parties. Of course, I’ve been through this routine before and I know it’s always potluck. So even before the girls said anything definite, the last time I was at the supermarket, I bought enough stuff for two large trays of baked macaroni. That’s what they always ask me to make anyway. You know, the one with the cheesy topping.
Then, two nights ago, over dinner, after Sam had already confirmed it was going to be baked macaroni for her class party, Alex announced that her teacher-in-charge was personally requesting that she bring pork dinuguan, a dish I cooked for their Linggo ng Wika class party last August and which, apparently, her teacher liked so much. Flattering. But hardly considerate. Speedy blew his top even before I could say, “What does your teacher think I am, a restaurant where one can place an order?”
And then, there’s the matter of the Kris Kringle and the exchange gifts. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to adopt the wish list system. While the annual exchange gift was usually just a matter of setting a price range (in fact, in previous years, there was a price ceiling to discourage extravagance), this time, we have to go out and search for specific items all in accordance with capricious wish lists. Yes, capricious. Like a Final Fantasy 7 disc for PS2. Damn it, really. I am so losing my sense of humor. My tact evaporated a long ago. It’s tempting to print the image on the right, insert it in a frame and be done with the whole business.
But. BUT. It’s not the fault of the student who put the item in his wish list, is it? The students were told to do something, write a list of things they really want, and they did. The blame should fall squarely on whoever thought of using the wish list system for the exchange gift. Apparently, that person is NOT aware of the origin and nature of a wish list as it has become popular on the internet — wish lists are never mandatory. That’s why it’s a wish list. It’s there for everyone to see and the public is free to voluntarily grant a person any item on the wish list. The operative word is VOLUNTARY. And yet, here we are parents, obliged to buy a gift that must be found in the wish list of the students whose names were picked by our kids when the Kris Kringle activity started.
If that’s not encouraging materialism, I don’t know what is. I much appreciate the system where students are taught to have the grace to accept a gift that his classmate can afford and gave with all his heart.