Christmas for Parents
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Last Sunday’s column was about the Christmases of my childhood, before I got married and had children of my own, before the responsibility for Christmas wreaths and trees, noche buena and lunch, buying and wrapping so many gifts and working myself to the bone for Christmas Day happened. Christmas celebrations follow the paths of our lives. We begin as sweet little babies who toddle through a time of innocence and magic. We believe in Santa Claus and the Three Kings, the Tooth Fairy or Ratoncito Perez, which was the friendly little Spanish rat who bought our fallen baby teeth from us, the Easter Bunny who hid wonderfully painted eggs in our gardens for us to find.  That was indeed the magic of childhood.

 When we grew up and got married, life changed. Suddenly we realized we had to become the weavers of magic. I am a craftswoman and every Christmas, through thick and thin, I always do something to express the spirit of the season. I have gone from making a Christmas mobile instead of a tree when my eldest daughter was nine months old (she is 54 now) to three elaborate Christmas trees when my youngest child, my only son, was in his childhood (he is 48 now), to the Christmas tree we have now, which has for its base a wire thing for displaying and selling jewelry, Christmas balls I used to demonstrate a jewelry-making technique, and lights. Just a simple little tree made from things I had lying around.

 When the children were small and I was a full-time housewife, we had the most elaborate Christmases of all. Our lives, if you tried to chart them, were full of peaks and valleys. When we were at our peak we hosted Christmas lunch at our home in Forbes Park and the entire family of my partner was there. We would have Chinese ham, rellenong manok (Spanish-style stuffed chicken), cocido, fruit salad, and a wild assortment of desserts, which we received as Christmas presents.  Those were the years when our living room was full of wall-to-wall Christmas presents because my partner then worked with the government.

 The last year we had that gathering was the most turbulent of all. We were fighting.  One sister was mad at me for something I didn’t do but she came and pouted and said mean things anyway. Another sister was on my side. The mother was on the side of the other sister. After they had all gone we watched The Glenn Miller Story on TV.  I thought: If I had married Glenn Miller, I wouldn’t have to host these Christmas lunches because his plane crashed on Christmas Eve.

 After that we had simpler Christmases. We moved into smaller homes. We learned to live on my salary. I will never forget doing our Christmas shopping and winning the supermarket promo that gave us our entire grocery cart free.  I thanked God for His goodness.

 We began to develop habits.  Christmas meant a tree that I set up, gathering around it and opening gifts on Christmas morning. I handled the Coca-Cola account then and there was always so much work over the Christmas season. In my patchwork family my children spent Christmas Eve with their father and Christmas lunch with me.  We always had roast capon or roast turkey that I always prepared.  We always had castañas.

 When we were in the US, we had our most memorable Christmas with my two-year-old grandson Powie.  My daughter and I bought a big Christmas tree and dragged it from the car to our living room, screaming and giggling all the while.  All my children were there.  At midnight, my son sneaked out to knock loudly on our front door.  Then Powie and his mom opened the door and there stood the big red car that was Santa’s gift to Powie.  I will never forget how his eyes turned into saucers, the light in his smile.  It was the most memorable moment for me, a first-time grandmother at the ripe old age of 41.

 Christmas becomes difficult when you are a parent. It is genuinely magical when we are children, when we first embrace the enchantment, and later when we doubt it but don’t want to say we doubt it because we can’t let go of the magic. Today at my age, I still lament that I had to let go of the magic.

* * *

Last Sunday a few people texted asking where they could buy genuine fruitcakes.  Well, I haven’t tried her but a lady called Jenny Wallum sent me the number of a friend of hers whom, she says, makes a proper fruitcake.  Her name is Marie Whale and her number is 0920-954-1261. Jenny says Marie bakes them and sells them to raise funds for Bicol.  I think she’s worth a try.

* * *

 Please text your comments to 0998-991-2287

CHRISTMAS
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