(While I was putting up our Christmas tree last week, I couldn't help but squirm—
at the story behind it. I wrote about it in my e-column in 2002. Let me share it with you.)
"Sale" is a marketing tool. That I know by heart as an advertising person almost all my working life. Where there is a "sale" there I am, too. My excuse—to save money.
When Traditions--a pricey gift and décor store—put up its Christmas display about three years ago, I spent hours gawking at one of its trees: a ten-foot simulated pine. Stunning, it carried no color but white. From top to bottom, every inch was trimmed with ethereal angels in white gowns. Peering at the angels, I noted the details
no two were alike.
Each was playing a different musical instrument with a different smile and pose.
"There are fifty different angels," the saleslady said. Each one cost P100. Which means, to buy all fifty (perfect for a small tree), one would have to shell out a whopping P5,000! Nope, too expensive; and I already had more than enough trimmings.
But at home, when I glanced at my (the male members of my family let me be) little tree decked with colorful balls, I would imagine the tree with a host of angels in white. Someday...
Someday came on December 26. The price of the angels (the very same ones which I coveted for months) was slashed by 80%! From P100, it was down to an incredible P20! I decided on the spot. I could save money for next Christmas
just twelve months away. For only P1,000, I could have not just ten but a whole set of fifty. A steal. Even without a calculator I instantly computed a savings of P4,000! "Wise woman," I patted my own back.
I carefully put them in a box and kept the expensive merchandise out of harm's way.
Zap to next year's Christmas season. Taking the box of angels from its perch, I sang. Unwrapping them, I wailed. Their white gowns had turned into varying shades of yellow and their gold-trimmed instruments were chipping away. There were also little black things resembling tiny seeds all over. "Cockroach dung," my househelp said.
I flew to the dry cleaners where I was charged P10 for each, P500 for the lot. After they were cleaned, the clothes were not in their original pristine white. "Ecru is classier than white," the salesman avowed.
And the peeling paint? Well, now was my chance to be a painter. The gold paint came in a one-liter can costing P100. I needed a paint brush worth P20. After three days I finally hung them up my tree. One after another, a branch snapped and broke its hinges to oblivion. My refurbished angels were too heavy for a tiny tree! I dashed to SM for a sturdy seven-foot evergreen at P3,000.
With a bigger tree, I needed to augment my blinking lights. I bought ten sets for P600. I also paid a newspaper boy P100 to throw away the heap which was once my tree.
When finally my new evergreen had the angels and lights, it didn't look nearly as good as Tradition's. I followed my son's advice to install a spotlight (P750) as they do in stores. It's still not perfect. As a last resort, I asked an artist friend's opinion, "You need more angels to cover all the gaps and more...."
Yup, I've always known that to save money, I must buy only what I need, not buy what I covet on "sale." What gives? Knowing is one thing, having self control is another. Here's where I consistently need God's word: 1 Corinthians 12:31—But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. And where I constantly crave His grace.
copyright © 2002 by Grace D. Chong