Baguio City – Once the ‘ber’ months hits, we get all excited. It is when you start hearing Christmas songs on the radio or you start counting down days before Christmas in school. Studying in a Catholic School, you get to countdown Christmas by the lighting of the Advent Candles. With the chilly and breezy climate, you can actually see the mist coming out of your mouth at this time of the year. We actually try to out do each other while waiting for our ride to school by who can make a unique or biggest shape out of the morning mist.
We start saving from our little allowances just to be able to buy gifts for our Kris Kringle. Even at a young age, we were taught to save and earned extra credits for good grades or helping out on a chore. Somehow, we came prepared when Christmas day comes and it’s not because we saved a lot but we had meager expectations on what to give and what to receive. We have our Christmas socks that magically has candies after the night. I once caught my dad placing candies in the sock one time and he just said that Santa asked him to place it there. We’d count the days before Christmas and sometimes gather as a pack to do our rounds of Caroling for extra cash. Having cousins 2 to 3 years apart makes it easier to form a group.
When Christmas comes, we used to have singing and dancing contest for a glorious sum of P20-P50. The sum would be enough to buy you snacks and drinks or even chocolates. We enjoyed the thrill of winning and felt the sting of losing. We had the tradition of who could give the best piece on ” The Greatest Love of All” and we also sings it as a group with our parents and grandparents as audience. We’d take our dinner together after all the contests and then we proceed to exchange gifts. We didn’t expect big toys or expensive gadgets but we’d be happy to have a simple pull back car toy or matchbox we’d crash against each other. Anything over that is already a luxury. We then proceed to church for an anticipated Christmas Mass an hour or two before Christmas. Then we countdown the minutes before Christmas, open our gifts and have our Noche Buena as a family. After that we resume counting down to the next 365 days before Christmas.
Somehow this is how I always wanted to see Christmas. It’s a lot different now with our pack in charge of the gifts and with the younger and older ones being the recipients. Things have changed with the simple gifts or prize of the past replaced by gadgets and cold cash. It’s not the price tag that I am afraid of but Christmas has gone commercial with the pricey celebrations and expensive gifts. It’s always nice to look back at tales of Christmas Past when the spirit of giving and family was at its strongest.