Tag Archives: Christmas

Santa Claus

Years ago in my final panel interview for my very first teaching job in a Catholic school, a priest (who was part of a ten-man panel) asked me about my thoughts on Santa Claus.

He was basically asking me if I was going to include Santa in my  Christmas curriculum.  I think it was at this moment that it became clear to me that my role as a teacher should not include talking about Santa and his gifts.

In my interview, I said that Santa is a family matter.  I said that I would defer to the parents who I believe, know what is best for the family.  I really wanted to be sensitive to the families whose holiday season may not include him.

Receiving gifts from Santa was not my own family’s tradition.

Santa Claus was a character that I only saw on Christmas cards as a young child in Manila.    I was not the least curious about him because my parents never talked about him when I was growing up. Because of this, I always thought that he was a fictional character similar to the Disney princesses.

When my own children became old enough to understand the concept of receiving gifts from Santa, my husband and I had to decide if we were going to support this or not.

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We are now living in the US and not the Philippines.  I know that they are going to ask questions because Santa can be seen everywhere–TV advertisements, print ads, and retail and grocery stores.  We even see him in the mall for photo ops.

What tipped the scale for me was when my son came home from school with a wish list for Santa.

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Lillian Katz, an international leader in childhood education, said in an interview regarding the distinction between child’s culture and heritage:

We want children to appreciate their heritage. At the same time, we must acknowledge that a young child’s culture represents his or her actual day-to-day experience.

With that in mind,  my children expect Santa to visit our house in the early morning of Christmas day.  Santa drops by and leaves presents under the tree with my children’s name.  When cookies and milk are left on the dining table for him to eat, he happily takes the treat and leaves a thank you note.

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Santa even uses a different wrapping paper when wrapping his presents.  Even the manner that the presents are wrapped is very different from how presents are usually wrapped in my household.

Yup, we are loving Santa.  We anxiously await his visit and grateful for his generosity.  We compare his ability to give to God’s generosity.

And to make sure that the cultural heritage is not forgotten, we go to church on Christmas eve, we light the Advent Wreath during the Advent season, and we celebrate Noche Buena with family and good friends.

My children are making new Christmas tradition that I am hopeful will always reflect our Filipino cultural heritage.

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Christmas Symbols

Last week we trooped to watch my son’s class sing Christmas carols in the tree-lighting ceremony of the city.

People at work pointed out that it was too early to light the Christmas tree.  After all, it wasn’t even December yet.

I just had to smile because clearly, they have not heard about crazy Filipinos decorating Christmas trees as early as November (after All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), or Christmas songs hitting the airwaves as early as September, or even Filipinos who do not even bother putting away Christmas decor.  (My mom had her Belen in our atrium for the whole year.)

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The Christmas Decor in our house in Manila

I don’t put out Christmas decorations early.  The earliest I have bought a Christmas tree was Black Friday, and the latest was Dec 22.

There were Christmases that we didn’t even have a Christmas tree.  My husband felt that it was wrong to cut trees just to be decorations for the holidays.  So as a sign of protest, he was adamant that we not support the Christmas tree growers–we had a potted rosemary topiary with lights instead.

Then I argued that the pine trees were grown and cut precisely for the sole purpose of becoming a Christmas tree.  I countered that if a tree were left in the lot, then it did not achieve its purpose in life: That tree would have died living an unfulfilled life.

So the next year, I got my tree.

IMG_6748Our very first Christmas tree

While we decorate our house with pretty trimmings, we also prepare our minds and hearts for the birth of Jesus.   On the four Sundays leading to December 25, we pray and light the candles of the Advent Wreath.

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During this season of Advent,  I am hopeful that my children understand the difference between Christmas and Christmas symbols.

With Santa Claus in the malls, advertisements for stocking stuffers everywhere, ninongs and ninangs asking them what they want, it will be challenging.

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My children will be supporting their school’s Toy Drive this year.  They will purchase toys using the money that they earned from their car wash business.  It is not a lot, but I told them that for every dollar of their own money that they use, I will match it.

Because they are using the money that they worked hard to earn, they are giving up a part of themselves which I think, is the true meaning of Christmas.