When you can’t afford Christmas

There was a time when I dreaded Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas with all of my heart but there were times when we could barely afford it. And when you can’t afford it, there’s panic in your heart. The Santa’s wish list, the decors, the celebration itself cost too damn much. I never thought that a tiny Christmas ham could cause so much pain in a mother’s heart.

Handing inexpensive gifts to family members, anxious to see their reactions, hoping to see their faces light up, praying that they would love it. Hoping that my kids do not get disappointed too much that Santa has once again, botched up.

I think we’re good this Christmas but the thing about a mother’s heart is that there will always be that fear no matter how big the Christmas ham is. The anxiety that we wont be able to live up to the Christmas expectations. We want everybody to be excited! We want the magic for our kids to be the most magical of all mothereffing magic, we want big smiles and glitters, we want wine and laughter. We want Christmas to be grand! We want to hear our kids say “This is the best Christmas ever!!!”

Unfortunately. There will be times when it wont be the best Christmas ever. It wont even look like Christmas at all.

When you can’t afford Christmas

I was in high school and it was just me and my mom here in Cebu. We had no money, definitely no ham and no presents so we got out of the house on Christmas eve for fresh air. I don’t remember where else we went but I know we ended up at the house of a relative a million times removed.

Then 12 o’clock came.


My mom and I went out of the house to watch the fireworks display. But really, we went out to escape the happy scene that our one million times removed relative and her family were making.

I hugged my mom so tight that I think I broke a rib. Broken ribs seemed easier to bear than watching my mom watch the exploding lights in the sky. Wondering how is it that she’s okay when I am dying in pain. Life can be so unfair.

When we went back inside, the one million times removed relative handed me a shirt that said “Your Trusted Construction Company” or something like that as a gift. The pain got so fucking real. The self pity. The hurt so deep, it chokes. And the shirt had nothing to do with it at all.

Life’s daily conundrum, I realized, is the best antidote to yesterday’s pain. I got over it.

I forgot about it until I had kids.

Until it was I who could not afford Christmas.

Until I realized that the pain I felt over the fact that we were so poor was nowhere near the pain that my mom felt over not being able to afford Christmas for us.

And I want to go back to that moment and hug my mom so tight until her ribs break and tell her not being able to afford Christmas is okay. I am okay. We turned out okay. We will still have each other until we get that biggest fucking ham.

So if you think you can’t afford Christmas this year, shrug it off mama. It’s going to be alright.


I love you mommy.