One Of My Christmases Back Then

Dec. 2004 Christmas Eve with my siblings – JR, Ate Arneth, Myself, Lyndon (back) and Jeff

I miss my Mother or should I say I miss her cooking. I miss celebrating Christmas with them back in the Philippines.

Christmas back home is very simple from what I remember in our household. Less stress. We would cook late in the afternoon and go to church. When we come home around midnight, Christmas Eve, we would get the little kids up when we can and eat together. Our table was full of sweet delicacies, fruits and mother’s cooking. After our midnight meal, we would have gift exchange if we have gifts, if not we will just talk or have a drink; and then go to back to bed. This was the tradition we started when our father started working abroad, making descent money and we could afford to prepare fancy meal.

1989 Christmas Day after church at my Aunt’s house. Myself, Lyndon, Jeff, JR, and Ate Arneth

Parents on the ship where father worked as a seaman.

When I was around five years old, I don’t remember us having fancy Christmas meal in our table. We were poor. I remember our house being dark, no electricity but the reflection of street light coming through our two windows. I could hear carolers but I don’t remember a group of them sing outside our home, maybe because it looked like we don’t have anything to give. My mom asked us to hang our socks, real socks that we wear not the stockings, before we went to bed. I remember laying on one of the sacks of rice that my father piled up in our house. He worked in my grandparent’s field and since they don’t have a bodega, they had it piled up in our living room almost up to the ceiling. It was our playground, we would climb, sit or lay in them. I was laying on one of the sacks looking outside one Christmas Eve while my mom sat beside me waiting for my father to come home. I don’t want to make my journal cheesy but I still can see my mom wearing a green dress. She was tiny and slim. The next morning, we would check our socks. We were happy to see it full of lollipops and hard candies in different flavors like lemon drops. No chocolates. No toys. My parents especially mother, made us believe it was from Santa Claus. We would hear the neighboring kids in the streets showing each others’ socks. I did not understand why Santa gave our neighbor, Jocelyn, a beautiful doll. But we were happy with what we got. The only new stuff we would get were clothing and shoes for our school Christmas Party and going to church. Our mother would sew our outfits when she couldn’t afford to buy one. She would borrow my grandparent’s sewing machine. For our Christmas Tree, she would collect cigarette foil wrapper and cut out different shapes and tape it on one of her house plants.

Our daughter one Christmas night.

Our daughter one Christmas night.

Looking back, I can say that I really am blessed. I felt sadness, as I am writing, that I was that kid who wondered why Jocelyn got a doll on her socks but at the same time I am grateful for what I have. The great memories that my parents created. The lessons learned growing up. Understanding and learning to value what matters most. The simplicity of life. They did not focus on the fact that we were poor by doing nothing, they worked hard. They did the best out of what they have.

My family, where I am now.

Dec. 2012 Christmas Day. My family, where I am now.

P.S I am happy to know who Charlie Brown and Linus is, and how peppermint candy taste like when I got here. These are one of the little things I am grateful for.

James 1:17 Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.


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