Two weeks ago in Ortigas, I picked up a box of Nestle Crunch chocolate bars, winnings from Nestle Crunch’s Crunchstagram contest on FB (visit their facebook page, like if you crave Nestle Crunch) wherein fans were to submit pictures of their interpretation of a given theme using Nestle Crunch chocolate bars. Thank you Nestle Crunch and Nuworks! The family got a chocolate bar each. The rest are now tagged and decked in ribbons ready to be given out to Sunday school children and more children. Can’t wait to see their faces when they see the big bar. Last time we gave out chocolate, sugar rush! They were bouncing off the walls.
We give to children carolers who visit our home starting Simbang Gabi, the official start of caroling period, because you know, it takes guts to stand in front of a house whose owner you don’t know and sing. These kids brave the neighborhood dogs too. Most of the time nowadays, all they get is “patawad” which is why their numbers have dwindled over the years. And hey, Christmas is for kids (from 1 to 92. Coincidentally, Nestle Crunch’s tagline is “for the kid in you.”).
Unlike in some countries, here in the Philippines people give money to carolers and mga namamasko. However, except for the older group of carolers who hand out envelopes, it’s been our tradition to give out food and trinkets instead of cash. While some may argue that this is the only time wherein kids will be able to receive money which they can either use to buy stuff they like (like toys) or stuff they need (supplies for school) so it’s more prudent to give out cash, we have seen our share of squabbles and fights among kids that have lead us to our preferred pamasko. One time there was this group of carolers who were arguing as to how they would divide their napamaskuhan. They decided to do it via cara y cruz. Another time, another group of carolers divvied their loot based on age with the older kids getting the bigger share.
Besides, there seem to be a lot of kids who are much more appreciative of tokens. From our terrace, we can hear them excitedly unwrapping their gifts. And then there are kids who tend to remember you for what you’ve given them. There was this young man, now earning extra delivering softdrinks, who passed by our house one time and proudly showed off his necklace which he said he got from us when he was kid.
Which is not to say that people don’t remember those generous with their money. There’s this couple on our street and people would flock to their house for aguinaldo. However, the couple have retired a few years ago. As time passed the number of people going to their house dwindled. In a perfect world, those people would have continued visiting, their turn at bearing gifts for the couple.
Sorry for the bleak parts. While we hear Christmas carols on the radio as early as September, put up decors by November just as stores put up theirs, don’t you feel that Christmas this year seems muted? Might be because of Yolanda or the rising pricing of commodities. Anyway, I hope you guys are ready. Simbang gabi starts in 4-5 days.