Christmas then and now

Christmas then and now

Ilang tulog na lang, pasko na. Sobrang bilis kasi ng paglipas ng araw.

We have the longest Christmas celebration compared to other countries. Haven't I said that mall owners have something to do with it. And why not? They are the biggest beneificiaries of the season. There are already three SM malls in the City of San Fernando, plus Robinsons Mall and few small ones yet you can hardly move because of the large volume of vehicles going to and fro. Parking slots are filled. The malls are having field days, more so during weekends. This can be attributed to the growth in population and the dollar remittances courtesy of the OFWs. Lalo na pag magpapasko mas malaki ang padala.

I recall when I was growing up in my hometown town of Porac, there were no malls yet, but there were bazaars in Angeles City. Since our town fiesta was on November 25, my mother would buy me clothes peddled by street hawkers who sold wares and most anything. Having new clothes for Christmas, a trouser with a matching pant! Wow, that's big deal. Ukay ukay was yet to be introduced to consumers in the eighties.

No new shoes. Those which were bought two or three years ago were not yet outgrown and were still okay to use. Unless there were solicited hand me downs from rich kins. And normally given to my mom by my uncle Godofredo, father of Democrito, Ener and Amable. Or from my uncle Bienvenido, father of Nonong, the former mayor who was felled by an assasin bullet while campaigning in the eighties. All the above cousins were a lot older than I am, except for Nonong who was my three years senior.

The giant and electronically operated lanterns were the future. Even on houses of the rich displayed on their windows were the simple parol. No other decor. No multi-colored dancing Christmas lights. Only the wealthy can afford decorated Christmas trees. Only them can afford cakes, apples, oranges, ham and cheese. Ordinary families enjoyed 'nilaga and suman' and other home prepared dainties.

My parents woke us up early and attended all the dawn masses (simbang gabi) and we had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the church. Fr. Santiago Blanco, a pure blooded Spaniard was our parish priest. His booming voice can be heard from the altar to the main door of the church when delivering his homilies. Microphones and loud speakers were not in use then.The Gopez sisters, aunties of Francisco G. Nepomuceno, composed mostly the choral group with Memeng Tadeo, father-in-law of Senator Lito Lapid as the male vocalist, and my late sister Zenaida was the female lead.

Then, only kids were carolers. Unlike today, the mailman, the garbage man, the security guards, subdivision associations, office workers and many formed groups send notices that they would knock on your door on a designated day, and 'in the spirit of the season' you have to give. I used to hear then from older people that Christmas is for young people.

On Christmas day, as early six in the morning,we donned on our well pressed clothes and we visited our relatives and the 'ninongs and ninangs'. Before lunch time, if I had enough money for fares and movies, off to the theaters in nearby Angeles. And before dusk I was home, and my celebration of Christmas was over, and will look forward for the next year.

Today, Christmas entirely took a very different meaning to many people. And I am also a victim of this modern day and digital age. I no longer wake up early mornings for the dawn masses. I no longer prepare Christmas cards to greet kins and friends. I greet them with the very impersonal text messages. I join the rush with other people in going to the malls in a mad scramble to empty the shelves. I part now with my money, not to young carolers from our neighborhood singing 'The first Noel', Jingle Bells and Silent Night, but put in the cash in envelopes and never see the faces of the recipients. If you can't see their faces, how can you hear voices? How can you get their warm greetings,except in a written solicitation letter.

Today's celebration of Christmas will never bring me back to my childhood.

Oh! I miss the good old days !

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