In my previous post, I have said that Christmas should always be about who you spend it with. And that expensive gifts aren't that important. Yes, it was once again proven by the kids of Zambales. I am now close to tears as I write this. My heart is swelling with so much gratitude to our Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. I have never felt so contented with my life as what I am feeling right now. I am doing my favorite pastime (read: blogging) in the comfort
and security of my husband's room in the camp. Behind me are my snoring and blissfully sleeping loves. Any military wife would wish to be where I am seated right now. Oh, I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world so please find your own monobloc chair. Sorry.
If we have spent Christmas Day in Marikina, we could've been in my mother's house for lunch or met with some friends or could be at a mall. We could have taught LB to do some extortion practices again. Hehe. But this year's different, aside from a very fabulous Christmas Party that Rhambo's command post had and a cold and simple Noche Buena in the camp, Christmas Day was spent with 300+ kids of Zambales.
Rhambo may have the Alpha "Assaulter" Company Christmas Party in mind all the time prior the event, but Christmas Day is still something he looks forward to. Together with his men, they have solicited support from the businessmen and public officials around town, in cash or in kind, to make the children within their area of responsibility happy. There were slippers, old toys and school materials that were donated. They bought dolls, feeding bottles for infants, tambourines, helicopter toys and school stuff from the money they have collected.
Rhambo and the men of the Alpha Company, 24th IB, 7ID, Philippine Army were very excited to do the activity. The assigned soldier who played Santa was so game for wearing a beard out of cotton, even if it was directly plastered to his skin using a double adhesive tape. He even laughed "ho-ho-ho" like what the character does in movies and cartoon shows to make it a bit realistic.
Good thing that there was a costume that could be borrowed at the batallion headquarters. He used Rhambo's white socks as gloves. And stuffed a pillow to make his tummy bigger. We were all thrilled when he positioned himself at the hood of the army truck. And of course, the power couple (charot) had to have photos with the Santa Soldier! :)
The Santa Soldier was a hit to the kids, and adults alike. Though LB didn't like him, because I think I didn't give her a good picture of Santa (I just don't tell him stories that include him), I can sense that it made her happy that the kids were happy. LB was super behave during the event. She asked for water once and leaned on my shoulder; but throughout the time we were out, she cooperated. It's funny that when we passed by the road we traveled on during the gift-giving activity when we were on the way to the supermarket, she uttered "Uy, there's a bata! We don't have presents na." I thought she wouldn't remember, but she did. I guess she will always do. I hope we could always participate in these kinds of activities. I know that it will do good for her well-being.
I will try my best not to sound too politician-ish; but it indeed made me happy, just seeing the kids' smiles. Their innocent eyes that wonder why these soldiers are giving them gifts are just a heart-warming sight to see. The happiness was contagious. My cheek bones and jaw hurt for too much smiling. I even woke up earlier than the usual time I wake up. But it was all worth it.
You can never put a price on the warm smile of each and every kid I have handed a gift to. There was one incident that made my eyes water. We were going to a barangay hall when we passed by some kids and their mom on the road. One of the kids were using crutches and his whole body has obviously dried up from burning. I wasn't focused that I only gave him a shirt. Rhambo told me that I should have chosen to give him a bigger gift. But I realized that he's not different to other kids. He's actually doing better! He's more than normal. Among the 100+ kids we have already given gifts to, he was the only one who said Merry Christmas to us. Oh shoot, now I'm tearing up again.
If someone will ask me what's the best Christmas Day I have spent in my entire life to date, I will answer "this and the first Christmas with Sophia". LB may be too young to understand the concept of this activity, but I know that as parents, we have already imparted to her that flashy celebrations and extravagant toys would not define happiness. I only feel bad that LB can sometimes get easily tired of her toys, that she suddenly shifts from one toy to another. That's why when one of my friends asked me what gift could she give LB, I told her anything but toys. But, I bought her a medium-sized doll house as our Christmas gift for her. We still want her to enjoy her childhood though. And I want to give her great memories about it. But nothing in excess.
I hope that this will be continued in the next Christmases wherever Rhambo will be deployed, as long as he has means to conduct such activity. And I will always support and help them whenever I can. God bless our soldiers, God bless our country.