Of Childhood Christmas and Santa Claus

For a five-year old kid, a gift from Santa Claus on Christmas day is “happiness”, and I’m fortunate because I’m one of these kids. Thanks to my Santa Claus parents (although, until now, I don’t know if it’s my father or my mother).

The year was 1991. As early as seven in the evening, my mother already told us to prepare the most important “thing” that we need because Santa Claus will be looking for it on the very same time Jesus was born in Bethlehem . My sister and I were holding socks and, upon hearing our mom’s voice, we quickly went to the Christmas tree and placed these socks on top of it.

As kids, my sister and I were very prone to “childhood argument” which is unavoidable considering our age gap – my sister was four years old and I was five. One of these “arguments” includes “who will place the sock facing the door?” We were smart enough to think that if we place our socks facing the door, it will be easily spotted by Santa Claus and he wouldn't miss it. But mom was “more clever”. She’d get these socks from us, warning us that we shouldn't fight with each other because Santa Claus loves us both. After a minute or two of what we call “sermon”, she’d place the socks on top of the Christmas tree, of course, facing the door.

Santa Claus, as described by mom in her stories, is very much similar to the photos I’d seen in our neighbors’ Christmas decors. He’s a fat man in red, carrying assorted gifts for kids. Internet and cable are “unknown” in our place way back 1991 so I don’t have a clear idea how Santa Claus moves or moves. As far as I can remember, only Lolo Lodi (we call him Lolo Lodi but we’re not related by blood) had “betamax” back then, but we rarely go to his house to watch movies because we’re afraid of him. Back then, our creative imagination and my mom’s story gave us an idea how Santa Claus moves, jumps and the like.

I don’t have a clear picture of how we celebrated Noche Buena way back 1991, owing to the fact that a five-year old kid like me is hard to be awakened at midnight, But if my memory serves me right, we had pancit, loaf bread, chicken/pork, suman and binambam (a native kakanin in Bikol made of “malagkit” or cassava) to share with each other on Christmas eve.

The most exciting part for me and my sister is early morning of December 25th. Straight from our bed, we’d rush ourselves to the Christmas tree, check our socks and, viola, “There’s a five-peso coin from Santa Claus!” And we’d talk with each other with glee, wishing it’s always Christmas Day!

Now that I’m twenty-plus and dreaming of my own kids someday, I wonder why mom didn’t mention Rudolph and the other reindeers in her Santa Claus story. I know she knew it because she’s fond of singing the first two lines of the song ‘Rudolph: The Red-nosed Reindeer”. In fact, we came up with our own version of the song because we heard her several times singing the song. Here’s our version of the song: “Rudolph, the red-nosed rembir, kadang shining nose/ As if you ever sowet, you’ll ebing say itlog." Out of the world lyrics but funny when remembered and cherished. It makes me smile and burst into laughter. LOL!

Merry Christmas everyone!

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