Collecting moments

Carla Bianca V. Ravanes

Carla Bianca V. Ravanes

THE Christmas season has always held a special place in my heart even if Christmases of my childhood were not grand celebrations.

From an early age, my brother and I have known that there was no Santa and that there were years when presents did not pile up under the tree. There were no December 25th morning traditions and gifts were given days before because they were often the clothes we would wear to Christmas day reunions.

Our unconventional holidays, however, did not take away the glimmer and whim of the season.

In fact, the simplicity of how we celebrated Christmas in our younger years made it even more meaningful and significant. Because even if there were no Baby All Gone or Hot Wheel presents under the tree, my brother and I were sure of one thing: mom and dad would be there no matter what.

That no matter how difficult the year may have been for my parents, they made sure that Christmas was celebrated with a certain glee in our home: table filled with our favorite food or a day filled visiting places we adore. The gifts we appreciated the most were not found in the material possessions but rather in the effort placed to make the holidays significant.

Through these simple gatherings, my younger brother and I knew from early on about the things that matter the most. However, as one grows older and ventures into the world, the meaning of the holidays can significantly change. Having your own disposable income can make you a bit materialistic in the first few years of having a job. It can make you chase after gold and glitter while discarding the gift that matters most: time.

Christmases past visited my thoughts while I spent a good part of my Sunday morning waking up my brain for something to share for my first ever Christmas article. It’s the third to the last Sunday of the year and while things should be slowing down, they’re not.

Instead, moments leading up to Christmas have become increasingly busy due to the never-ending Santa list of things to do, people to see, and gifts to wrap. As I caught my first breather in a week, I have come to remember that the most significant gifts I have received have not been the most expensive.

In fact, the best presents I have gotten were the simplest ones. Presents become special when you realize the effort placed by the person giving it, and there’s effort in choosing gifts, wrapping them carefully and delivering them. The mere handing over a gift is enough to make one smile.

The holidays often turn us into grinches because we’re on the edge trying to give the “best” gift while at the same time staying within budget. While these are bested with noble intentions, we often forget in the hustle and bustle that what makes the holidays significant is the time we spend with the ones we love the most.

For what is the point of all things that shimmer when we couldn’t share it with the ones we love the most? So more than spending time in the mall and bazaars, spend time with the people you love. Laugh over the year that was, be grateful, collect moments, not just mementos.

And as you enter into the chaotic final stretch of the Christmas rush, I wish you moments that will make you smile in the years to come: moments of laughter, joy, peace, and most importantly, love.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. I’m sorry, the last few sentences are’ “Every Christmas here in the US, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who in spite of being surrounded with beauty and magic, she would rather go back home in Kansas. That although her house was just decimated by tornado, she pleaded with the Good Witch that she went home. The Good Witch told her that what she desired was just in front of her. All she needed to do was tap her shoes three times and whisper, “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Unfortunately, I don’t have Dorothy’s red shoes.”

  2. As I was reading your article, snap shots of Christmas pasts flooded and crowded my mind. Just like how your family celebrate Christmas, mine too was simple, nothing fancy. My children are very much the average Filipino children who don’t complain about gifts they received because they knew my limitations as a father financially speaking. Growing up they did not make feel inadequate as a father because then, I cannot afford the more expensive and state of the arts toys and clothes. Unlike what I encounter here in the US. To most American children, suffering is a foreign concept. I would say they at least get gifts worth $150.00 and they think they have been stiffed. They are taught and conditioned to be entitled. So whatever you give them whether these are coming from their parents or the government, they believe, these are owed to them. Their Christmas lists include I-Phone, I-Pad, and X-Box. One more thing, these should come with the latest fashion. What do I know? They invented the word “fun”. We know fully well what happiness is but fun? Happiness is doing something nice for others. Our children know how to forego something they really like so that others will have something. It took me quite a while before I finally understood what fun is. Fun is buying stuff you don’t need, going to places and with people you don’t like, and doing things you hate and say with so much passion and gusto, “that was fun.” When I was growing up, receiving a simple gift was a big deal and so with my children. Then, Christmas gifts and giving were a joy. They lightened everyone’s faces not the usual rolling of the eyes I often see here. In fact I also hear the rumbling, “Are these all?” That’s entitlement and I don’t like it one bit. Every Christmas here in the US, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who in spite of being surrounded with beauty and magic, she would rather go back home in Kansas. That although her house was just decimated by tornado, she pleaded with the Good…