I'm done with my Christmas shopping, but not everybody else is. My sister's just getting started, and since she's busy at work lately she only has the weekends to do her shopping. Which meant I have to do the driving.

I didn't really mind. I had the itching to leave home anyway - you know, change the scenery, distract myself and all - plus the fact that I had to pick up a couple magazines along the way. But I spent most of my time with my sister at Rustan's, going through the toy section, trying to pick out gifts for our little cousins.

It's a setup we barely stumbled into. I didn't think of giving gifts for my cousins. She didn't think of giving gifts for our grandparents. She's not taking credit for my gifts, and I'm taking credit for hers, although we're definitely sharing credit on a gift we're giving to the daughter of one of my dad's colleagues - just so freaking adorable. But, since I was around and I felt like proving that I've done Christmas shopping for four years now, I helped out.

I didn't really help out. My sister found this Happy Feet Two plushie, and we chose it over the cheaper stuffed bear because I thought it was too Dickensian. (You know kids nowadays.) We had a harder time looking for gifts for our two younger cousins, Izaak (heretofore known as Tak) and KC (heretofore known as Piching).

Tak's a big Cars fan - he'd watch the movie every time it comes on the TV, and he really finds Lightning McQueen cool - so getting a Cars toy is a no-brainer. Well, except for the fact that there were no more Lightning McQueen toys. "Sold out na po," the sales guy told my sister, just as I saw this assemble-your-own-Lightning-McQueen-statue kit being sold. Nah.

Piching was a harder proposition, because she's the quintessential girly girl. Fashion accessories, make-up, and at six (or seven) years old? It's scaring me a bit, because I don't remember my sister going through that phase. We did see some items my cousin might be interested in, but it's way beyond my sister's budget.

We didn't really do that much shopping.

Then again, this isn't about our shopping. (Well, my sister's shopping.) I was in a toy store. On a weekend. And I was surrounded by kids.

You know how kids are with toy stores, right? Now, I definitely went through that phase. Toy Kingdom at SM Southmall. A ten-year-old's paradise. I was going through a Micro Machines phase and got excited whenever I saw a whole aisle of the toys. Boxes of gas stations and truck stops and auto repair emporiums (or is it emporia?), big boxes, and those small cars, only a few of them. Next thing I know, I've strayed from my parents, I've gotten lost in the mall, and I was crying in the corridor. Customer service played the role of Jessica Soho.

And up to now, I still get that tingling sensation whenever I'm in a toy store. Sure, I'm rarely there nowadays  - I don't really have to go there anymore - but whenever I there, and see an interesting toy, I still quietly go "oooh, that's a really good toy!" And I'm not referring to action figures. They're boring. The kid in me who wanted to be an architect when he grows up still gets excited over those building sets and cars.

Fine, I get a bit excited over stuffed toys too, because I never had those when I was a kid. Asthma.

So here I am, talking to my sister about what toy she should pick up. Maybe that "Dickensian" argument I mentioned earlier. We probably were in the middle of the small aisle or something. We were surrounded by kids, English-speaking ones, accompanied by their nannies or their parents, understandably excited over whatever they're seeing, and silently wishing (or not) that they get that exact toy for Christmas.

Then comes this boy, probably eleven, a little fat, barging in, swiping me with one arm - I would say "pushing me with one arm" to be clearer, but that isn't accurate - and going, "excuse meeeee!" He swiftly walks away, that self-entitled brat.

Kids nowadays. They become devils when confronted by the toy store. Gone are the times when we'd see toy advertisements on Just for Kids on ABS-CBN and make a mental note to look for it in the toy store, silently. (Does anyone remember that show? Saturday mornings with that lady whose name slips me at the moment? That lady who's probably based in Forbes Park? Do I even have that show's name right?) Now, they'd see the same ads on Cartoon Network and push their parents to the toy store, pronto. So much for being nice for Santa all year.

Or maybe, like in most instances, I wasn't like most kids. Or maybe I am like them. Oh, I don't want that thought.

And your responses...

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