Growing up, I should say that I did not really live in abundance compared to what my children enjoyed now. My mom was very thrifty, to the extent of being miserly. I did not get a lot of money for recess…50 cents was enough for her but not for me; because I need to come back for that Siopao and Pandesal which Manang ( title for older women) sold. so I remembered borrowing money from my best friend, Leila, all the time. Getting a loan from somebody at 13 years old was not a very good idea… I usually found myself paying the debt and quickly having a debt again… We were not poor, but I did not have a lot of material things that my heart desired. I did not understand Mama back then, but now I know better… I believe she was trying to teach me a lesson about money and not living in handouts.
Currently, I have trouble drawing the line between teaching my kids a lesson about thriftiness and “gifts.” After all, I work hard so that my children can enjoy what have been withheld from like travel, clothes and good foods like cake and cupcakes.
The lack of material things, however, was compensated by love, peace and unity within my nuclear family. I always hang out with my cousins, uncles and aunties. There was so much laughter whenever we gather in my grandma’s house and the laughter was accented by the good foods in front of us.
It was mostly during fiesta and Christmas that my huge family gathered. We will have our late night Christmas eve celebration which we call Noche Buena and after which we will open gifts. The gifts were not elaborate, but I treasured it like it was a diamond. I did not exactly remember what the present was, but reliving those get- together, time being with my family and being home in my country, bring joy and sadness at the same time.
Although I am proud of myself for realizing my dream of seeing the snow and living in the US, US is still not my home. My heart still craves the rickety motorcycle rides and the scorching Philippines heat which I abhorred. And most, I miss the uproarious laughter whenever I am with my family.