growing up without santa

December 24, 2012 at 10:43 am 10 comments


Photo: Cadbury

i was born in a family that didn’t celebrate christmas. it was a holiday that came and went just like any other day.

i guess when you were poor in the philippines, you didn’t really have much of a choice.

i do remember my father putting on a christmas lantern outside by the window at the start of simbang gabi, a traditional early morning mass held before sunrise from dec. 16 to dec. 24 in the philippines. but that was it. as far as making a fuss over christmas, preparing holiday treats, setting up decorations and buying presents and stuff, you could count our family out.

it goes without saying that believing in santa claus wasn’t encouraged, either. but i believed, and still wanted to believe, even during those years when the sock that i hung remained empty. i reasoned then that it wasn’t santa’s fault. i figured it must be because we didn’t have a chimney and he could only go to a house that had one.

but there was one christmas eve when santa finally came. i must be six or seven then. i remember, before we went to sleep that night, my father told my sister and i to hang our socks. when i woke up in the morning, i went straight to my sock and to my surprise felt something inside. it had a chocolate bar, a toothbrush, and a toothpaste. there was even a reminder to brush my teeth to prevent getting cavities.

i was a little disappointed that santa forgot to give me a toy, but i was very pleased to get the chocolate bar. i knew it was a special treat, a luxury, considering our humble circumstances. i decided not to eat it right away. i wanted to hold onto it for as long as i could. it helped that it was divided into little squares, so i could eat one piece at a time. but soon the desire to taste something so good got the better of me. i started nibbling at it, slowly at first, savoring every piece in my mouth. in no time, all that was left was the wrapper.

it was my first lesson on happiness. it never lasted. the happiness that the chocolate had provided me while eating it was equal only to the sadness that i felt after finishing it. if there was any consolation, it was that the sadness didn’t last as well. being a kid, it didn’t take me long to get it out of my skin and find happiness again.

we didn’t have much when my sister and i were growing up. for our parents, it meant setting priorities and making sacrifices to allow us to grow up in a stable family and have a college education. these included doing away with the kind of christmas enjoyed by a family living in a house with a chimney. well, there’s hardly a house with a chimney in the philippines. i just used it as a figure of speech to represent a santa-friendly home with toys and goodies i could only dream of as a kid.

in retrospect, my sister and i did alright. at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, chocolates, christmas, personal, philippines. Tags: , , , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rebecca2000  |  December 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I love this story. I just read it aloud to my family.

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  December 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      rebecca:

      i’m glad you liked it. thanks for adopting me. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • 3. AC  |  December 25, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Awwww… I love this. It’s always heartwarming to read stories about humble beginnings. Teary eyed ako. Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

    Side story: My teacher flatmate dressed up as Santa for their school’s Christmas party. She was telling stories to her students then suddenly one kid said Santa might not come because their house has no chimney. Hahaha. πŸ˜€

    Reply
    • 4. plaridel  |  December 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      ac:

      life’s a journey. it’s been great so far. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • 5. Abby  |  December 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    One of the best posts that I have read.

    Reply
    • 6. plaridel  |  December 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      abby:

      thanks for the pat on the back. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • 7. Once an Eid day | A mom's blog  |  December 16, 2013 at 11:23 am

    […] growing up without santa | Musings of a Random Mind […]

    Reply
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  • […] growing up without santa | Musings of a Random Mind […]

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  • 10. That Christmas Morning | Edward Hotspur  |  December 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    […] growing up without santa | Musings of a Random Mind […]

    Reply

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