Monday, January 18, 2010

Gift-Giving on Christmas Day

Christmas is an annual Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated every 25th of December and is central to the Christmas and holiday season. There are many popular modern customs of the holiday including church celebrations or “Misa de Gallo”, family gatherings and reunions, Christmas carols, exchange of greeting cards, special meal called Noche Buena, display of various decorations; such as Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes and lantern or “parol” and of course, the much-awaited gift-giving.

Christmas has, for many centuries, been a time for giving and exchanging of gifts, particularly between family members and friends. A number of figures of both Christian and mythical origin have been associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among the most popular are Santa Claus or Father Christmas which is a folklore figure associated with the bringing of gifts for children and the traditional Kris Kringle which is the exchanging of gifts among friends, office mates, classmates and family members. Kris Kringle is a yearly activity in our family which we joyfully perform every 12:00 hour midnight of December 24, just before indulging in the Noche Buena feast.

On top of gift exchanging however, the family, for the last 12 years I think, has been giving gifts to all the children of our community (Barangay) which over the latter years also included children from nearby villages (other Barangays). This gift-giving project was conceived by my sister Maya, as a way of sharing the blessings we received throughout the year. The activity is jointly and actively participated in, carried-out and supported by all the members of the family through the guidance of our loving parents.

As the number of children-recipients has steadily grown over the years, so is everyones' level of anticipation and excitement. We have witnessed how a modest gift can really make a difference in the heart of a child during Christmas. The happiness that can be mirrored from their eyes upon receiving their gift is a feeling rarely experienced in our everyday lives. This activity will be pursued by the family for as long as we are financially able to do so. As what our neighbors have said, gift-giving is now our family’s tradition which most kids and parents look forward every Christmas Day.

My sisters Maya, Ines and Cha are the ones providing much of the time, labors and efforts in the preparation, toy selection, shopping, buying and wrapping of all the gifts which this Christmas numbered to around 500 from only about less than a 100 during the maiden year in 1997.

Since we are having our Kris Kringle on Christmas night which sometimes last up to around 3 am in the morning, waking up early on Christmas Day is a feat for us all. So we always schedule the gift-giving to around 10 am, giving enough time for the children to visit their “Ninong” and “Ninang” and relatives first for the traditional hand kissing. Nonetheless, they would always line up early, which for us is only suggesting how important gifts to children are.

The distribution of gifts is always assigned to my younger sister Cha who, this Christmas, tapped the young members of the family to act as Little Santa Clauses and do the giving. My daughter Chiara, nieces Tin-tin and Charize, with the assistance of some young relatives, eagerly attended the distribution.

As we have been doing each year, the ecstatic children were safety guided to an orderly queue to avoid anyone from getting hurt. Even if there are enough gifts for everyone; some kids will always make their way in hastily as we understand that it is human nature for them to always want to get ahead of the others.

Gift-giving is always a wonderful sight to see, no matter how humble the gift maybe. The joy it brings to a childs' life is for us something immeasurable. And with scenes like these? The fun and happiness are not limited to the receivers but also felt by the assigned givers who are themselves kids.

But of course the children who will receive gifts will always have the sweetest smile…….specially on this time of the year.

The fiesta atmosphere continued until all the children who came were given their presents. All children went home with a happy a face and a joyful heart. We just hope that the activity did not only provide them with the material thing but with an appreciation and hopefully a deeper understanding of the true essence and beauty of giving……..that when they grow up, they will as well practice the noble way of giving, not necessarily on this scale, but even on their little own way…….within their families and circle of friends. I’m sure that such inculcation will go a long way, to somehow contribute in making them a better person who, in the near future, will have the ability to make a difference in someones' life.

Since there are around 500 gifts distributed, expect Little Santa Charize to exhaust her energy…………and to bring her back to a cheerful mood, some frolicking by Ninang Marj is necessary.



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