The moment the -ber months appear on the calendar, one starts to hear Christmas carols over the airwaves, homemakers start putting out their decorations from their stock rooms and “tiangges” or gift bargain stores appear in my country.
Why do I dread this season when we have the best weather at this time of the year? Chilly and dry, save for some rain showers (although climate change is about to change that). This is the time of the year when every single person doing service for you like the garbage collectors or village security guards start handing out envelopes to be filled with cash. Your young relatives and acquaintances and godchildren expect gifts from you. Potluck parties with exchange gifts galore -family reunions to church organizations to village homeowners’ association! Traffic worsen as people get out more to shop for gifts and food to serve in their parties. Panhandlers start to multiply on the streets taking advantage of the season of giving.
Then there’s the nine-day dawn masses or novena before the Christmas eve mass wherein we are expected to serve as chapel officers. I have been doing it for more than a decade and I can’t break away from it without feeling guilty. For this, we have to solicit from the neighborhood, funds to sponsor the Masses and gifts for the priests who will be celebrating the masses. Serving in the chapel does not exempt us from donating cash and gifts, too.
At this time of the year, employees get their 13th or 14-month pay and bonuses to have money to spend on this occasion. But not for us in the self-employed, retired or informal economy sector. So where do we get money for the enormous expenses during this season?
The majority, especially the children look forward to this season. But for people like me, we get mixed emotions – happy that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday but anxious about meeting the demands of the commercialized aspect of Christmas.
When did it start to come to this?