Skipping Christmas Day

If Christmas Eve was always spent with the Somebangs, then Christmas Day was for the Ocampo side of our family.  In at least two years though, this being the third, I’ve been passing off the one hour road trip to San Fernando, Pampanga, where my Aunt’s family hosts the annual gathering.

Yesterday, it was only Mom and Dad who took the trip. I really had no excuse to skip this year, having the night off work too. But I had asked Alfred if he wanted to come, and he wasn’t up to it. Of course, had I known that he was only coming over by dinner time, then I would probably have gone along with my parents. Or maybe not.

With my paternal cousins also having kids now, gatherings should be noisy and fun and filled with kiddie activities. My kind of thing, you know? But they’re different. I guess it’s just because I don’t ever spend any time with them, and I am not as close with them as I am with my cousins on my mother’s side…

Mom brought with her the puppy pockets and some small stuff to give away as prizes. I don’t think they ever got down to playing any games though. Esban would probably go ballistic when he finds out that Ma gave away those cuties. He was really looking forward to getting them for himself! 🙂

BUT, I do not mean to compare the Christmases I spend with our two families. To do so would be rude. I’m just really trying to psychoanalyze myself: why do I keep skipping Christmas Day when I should really be throwing myself to it?

In a way, I don’t think I know how to treat my nieces and nephews. I don’t know them, so I’m not sure how to make them happy. I guess I’m not sure if they’d dig the same kind of stuff I had my nieces and nephews here do at our parties. But that’s not the kids’ problem, right? It’s mine. It’s not their fault they don’t know me. I’ve been hiding out!

When we were kids, Christmas Day meant a short trip to Caloocan City, to the family home along Maypajo. It’s the home of my grandmother’s family and her younger sister and brother (who both never got married) still live there until now. Of course Lola Binyang (Virginia) would be there, and my dad’s sisters’ families would be too. Sometimes, my lola’s other brother’s and sister’s families would drop by too.

I always remember just waking up already on the couch at Pajo. I easily had motion sickness as a kid, so I always either slept through any trip, or else I’d throw up all the way. The house at Maypajo is an interesting home. My dad used to tell us stories of him hiding under the silong reading comics that his dad didn’t want him reading. Too bad they had to fill the silong, because that area always became flooded. I kind of regret not getting to know the history of the house, you know? Now, it probably looks completely different from how I remember it. Tio Rizal had the place renovated a few years back.

I would also look forward to my grandmother’s gifts. And then there were the crisp bills that would come from the others. The Somebangs don’t give out money and even when Papa and Lola started to, that only happened when we were all grown up and I guess my grandparents didn’t know what to get each of us. Also, the kids never received money as gifts, they always got toys or clothes, or even shoes! So anyway, having that contrast, I’d look forward to the crisp twenties, fifties, or even hundreds, that would come from my other lolo’s, lola’s, aunts and uncles. When Mom and Dad got home last night, I was surprised that Kuya and I still had one red envelope each! Thanks Tita Baby and Tito Ver! 🙂

There was also a time when there were really no plans for Christmas Day, and so we would just go to my Lola’s house at Sangandaan. This would have happened when all us kids were grown up, and none had kids of their own yet. Then when the eldest grandchild Winnie got married, we’d have Christmas lunch at their home too.

Eventually, after grandma died, we became more organized at Christmas. I guess it was one reason to be sure that the family got together though the matriarch had already gone home. I’m not sure if we’ve ever hosted a Christmas, but I’m sure Tito Boy did when they were still here at their Santa Ana home.  Then Christmas Days were spent in Pampanga, hosted by Tita Baby and her family. They’ve got a nice garden and a backyard, ample space for everyone. 🙂 We’d be there for lunch, and stay until late afternoon. There’d be more than enough food for everybody.

Now, I kind of feel bad about not going yesterday. How else would I know what to get the kids for Christmas next year if I spend ZERO time with them?

Maybe next year I’d see more of my Ocampo family. Fingers crossed.