A couple of days before Christmas, I read
this post (Jhanis' blog is not available anymore) from one of my new fave blogger, Jhanis of The Vanilla Housewife. And then I read this article on FB shared by Frances of Topaz Mommy. Go ahead, read it first. So you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Done? Okay. Here we go.
My family is not well off. I remember as a kid, my Mama made me write to Santa Claus – “write whatever you want as a gift from Santa” she says. So I wrote down, Barbie with a Barbie House. The one I saw on tv. I even told Santa that I want my Barbie to have lots of pretty dresses so I could dress her up. I put my letter on my Papa’s old sock, left it by the window and slept. The next day, I saw a gift with the sock. Santa’s gift is a pretty shoulder bag full of candies. Nagulat ako. I asked for Barbie and a Barbie House and pretty Barbie dresses. Anyareh? Mila says “Anak, ang pangit kasi ng sulat mo. Hindi ata nabasa ni Santa ng maayos.”. Kaloka! I spent the entire year perfecting my hand writing after that. Yun pala, yun lang ang afford ng mga magulang ko. A cheap shoulder bag full of candies.
And then the next year, Papa showed me a newspaper clipping. People carrying big sacks going to what looked like a sand mountain (which is actually a Pinatubo news feature). He told me Santa’s sick. That Santa’s elves left him, and those people are going to Santa to give him food and clothes. So that Christmas, I wrote a get-well soon letter to Santa and left my piggy bank on the window. For Santa. :) My letter is written on a perfect hand writing. Sure na sure akong mababasa na nya. Next day, my piggy bank is still there. Mama says I could use it to buy toys. Sabi daw ni Santa.
I remember on that same Christmas, we don’t have electricity. And dilim. Kandila lang meron. Then Papa brought home this ulo ng lechon that’s made of paper. Super realistic. He put an apple on the mouth of the lechon. And a big kalendaryo with yummy food on the picture. “Yan ang handa natin!” he says with super wide grin. That time, I find it super funny! I don’t mind if we don’t have food on our table. When the clock strikes 12, Papa and Mama greeted me Merry Christmas and then off I go to my Lola’s house to eat. Masaya padin.
Now looking back, bilib na bilib ako sa galing ng mga magulang ko. I was spared from the pain of knowing that we have nothing on Christmas. My parents never made me feel that they can’t afford Christmas. Although I grew up knowing that I can’t have everything. My parents can’t buy expensive toys and clothes. We can’t have fancy Noche Buenas. But always, there’s something for me and my siblings. We always enjoyed Christmas.
Until one Christmas, 10 years ago. My brother was born December 12. He has cerebral palsy and global developmental delay. Mama spent Christmas at the hospital. Papa at work. My siblings on my lola’s house. And I, on my then boyfriend’s house. That’s my saddest Christmas ever. But, that Christmas made me realize the true meaning of the season. I remember crying on the phone with Mama. I feel her heartbreak. I am the oldest. I was already 20 then. I know. I am aware. My siblings are young, but they are aware too. Mama and my baby brother went home a day before New Year. So we welcomed New Year as a family but we have nothing on the table. Nothing. It was a first for my then 8 year old brother. He was asking why we don’t have food. He wanted to go out but my Mama won’t allow him. She didn’t want my brother to look kawawa. I was so shocked when my brother said, “Di bale ng wala tayong handa Mama no? Buhay naman si baby diba?” He was aware that we almost lost our baby brother. Until now, pag naalala ko yun, I can’t help but cry. I remember my Mama’s face. The pain is undeniable. But she is so proud that she was able to raise good kids. Coz we all understand. And our family was never the same. We are better. We are more loving. That pain made us whole.
And all the Christmas after that are so much better. I was already working and helping out with the family’s finances. Every Christmas after that, is happy.
Ako personally, every Christmas after that is my way of saying Thank You to Jesus. Dati, it was Christmas for us. Now, it’s Jesus’ birthday. I always make sure there’s a cake. We always greet Jesus. I always make sure may handa kami for my siblings. I don’t want them to think or to feel sad dahil walang handa. Every Christmas is my family’s way of saying Thank You! For giving us Boiboi, my baby brother. For always, always blessing our family.
Now that I’m a mum, there’s another reason for me to celebrate Christmas. And I am happy that I can actually afford Christmas now. I can buy the best and the cutest clothes for my baby. I can prepare, well buy the ingredients and make the ReigningTatay prepare the Christmas dinner. I can buy my baby toys. But I am so afraid of giving her too much. I want my baby to have everything I didn’t enjoy as a kid. I don’t want to see her disappointed that Santa didn’t read her letter properly and gave her a bag instead of Barbie. I remember wanting a Barbie doll for the longest time, and I never had one. Not one Barbie. Ever.
But I don’t want my child to think that Nanay can afford everything. That she can have everything she wanted. I never had everything I wanted and I turned out better. I
think am very sure that our poverty shaped me into the person I am right now. I was never spoiled. I never asked my parents for stuff. I am independent. After graduation, I looked for a job by myself. I asked my Lola for some funds and paid her immediately when I got my first pay check. I am proud for spoiling my parents now that I can afford to do so. I don’t want a spoiled brat for a daughter.
Ang hirap pala maging Nanay! Ang hirap because you always wanted the best for your child but you want to make sure you are raising them well. I happy that I don’t feel that guilt my parents sure felt when they can’t afford Christmas for me and my siblings. But I don’t want to end up raising a brat, who thinks she’s the center of the universe.
And daming realizations this Christmas. And now, all I’m praying for is guidance. So I could raise my child well.