What is Christmas?
When I was in grade school, specifically in Grade 3, I was asked to speak for my class about this question. I am not a good public speaker, honestly, until now. I feel like that that’s one of the blessings God filtered out not to give me. To deliver a presentation, I am not one of those people who could perfectly do an impromptu. If I wanted to make it look great I need to practice beforehand and know my “lines” – the things I needed to say. I am terrible, just terrible.
So when I was in Grade 3 and I was asked, I had a written speech ready in my sweaty little hands. And I remember one line until now because it is so true.
Christmas is just around the corner.
If you would ask me the same thing to explain back then I would not be able to explain it to you because it was not me who prepared the speech. It was one of my mom’s smart friends from work. Actually this line is very self explanatory, I just knew after a few years. And by all that prologo I did, let me now talk to you about the Christmas season in my home country Philippines.
Here in Canada, the most celebrated event of the year for kids is Halloween. It is that time of the year when they can dress up, get candies and be the center of attention. In my country, Halloween is a time for solidarity and prayers. We call it undas, it is the time of the year that we pray for our former loved ones and visit t them in the cemetery where their bodies lay down. But come Christmas time, IT IS PAAAAAAARTTTTTYYYY TTTIIIIIIIME!!!!!!
I can’t remember a sad Christmas mainly because I have a great closely knitted family on both sides — my mom’s and my dad’s. I would not say that one is better than the other because they have different ways of fun. Christmas season would never be complete without the simbang gabi – it is a nine day series of masses you have to attend before Christmas (December 16 to Christmas’ Eve). They say if you complete the series, you are allowed one wish and it will come true. I remember using that one wish to help me enter my dream university and I did. God gives you know, if you know how to ask and work for it.
Then comes the Noche Buena, this is the time you eat. Eat until you can’t move. This happens during Christmas Eve where different dishes are served. But the table would not be complete without the hamon (this would be the equivalent of Turkey for Western’s Thanksgiving) and Queso de bola (this is a very big ball of cheese). These are two important features of the table. Without them, it is not Noche Buena.
But who would ever forget to hang their socks for Santa’s present? Well, definitely not me. Because until I moved here to Canada, I hang my socks every Christmas Eve and waited til the morning (trying to figure out who Santa really is) for my present hoping it is a large chunk of money. But there’s this one Christmas I asked for a walkman when I was in Grade 4. A walkman is a portable cassette tape player because then CD players were still too expensive for us and my mom said it will be a waste of money because after sometime I will get tired of using it anyway. Surprise, surprise she was right. And she got angry that I didn’t use it after two weeks. And my argument: it was not you who gave it, it was Santa!!
But last year, we stopped receiving gifts from Santa both my sister and I. Apparently Santa does not go round about Canada. Maybe because it is a rich country and all.
This day makes me giddy because I am so happy. It is a day for new clothes, receiving gifts and accumulating a lot of money (Aguionaldo from Ninongs and Ninangs). Who would be sad then? I am just so lucky I have a wonderful Christmas every time and we always thank God for it. We do not also forget the real meaning of Christmas though I might be a bit materialistic at times. We give back what he gave us and I do not need to specify on that.
Christmas is definitely just around the corner. It could be when you and me share and know how to care.
(station ID of ABS CBN, one of the leading networks in the Philippines)
I SMELL THE HOLIDAYS!!!