The Christmas I’ll remember forever

I remember great Christmases with my family growing up. I never understood why my Mom would cry on Christmas day as we grew up. Or really got why my Dad would go all out for dinner, decorations, and overboard on gifts.

Growing up – we struggled as a family. My parents are living the American dream…and I am so proud of them for it. We immigrated to the U.S. when I was barely a year old. My mom was already a doctor – but unfortunately – the U.S. didn’t recognize her M.D. degree and she had to do residency all over again. My Dad with his Bachelor’s in Finance from the Philippines – wasn’t looked at as equal to another person with the same degree – so his degree and prior job working for PLDT (the equivalent of AT&T in the Philippines) was ignored – but he knew he had to provide – so he worked as a bus boy at Denny’s.

The years passed and we left California when my Mom was offered a job in Texas. I was 5 years old when we moved to the Lone Start State. My Dad got a job as a bank teller – trying to get back into the business world and moonlighted as a manager for Taco Bueno and a deli guy at Tom Thumb to pay the bills. My mom worked 2 shifts as fill in doctor in the E.R. and a neurology clinic.

You see blog friends – their road was tough. As immigrants – they believed that all their hard work would pay off. They believed that as long as they worked, worked hard, eventually – they would be able to give their daughters a life full of opportunity.

One Christmas when I was probably 10 years old or so – I remember all my sister’s and I got were piggy banks. Pennies filled the banks…but that was it. No designer clothes, no toys…just that. But, there was joy, there was laughter, there was family…and that’s all that mattered. It’s the Christmas I’ll remember forever….I don’t quite remember the tears in my Mom’s eyes when we opened our gifts….but I do now. As a mother…I get it. Because Christmas – as a parent is so much more. We want to give our children the list of toys whispered in Santa’s ears. We want to see little faces light up when they see their wish list in front of their eyes. We want to see a table full of food, treats overflowing…

And 25 years later…my parents have given my sister’s and I just that. An overabundance of gifts – not just material things but opportunities to go to college without the worries of student loans (even if they had to work 3 jobs EACH to make it happen), travel, dream weddings…my parents gave us the American dream. They go overboard at Christmas time now – for all of us – my sisters, the husbands, the grandkids…
Toy after toy, designer this and that, a huge holiday meal…that I happily eat 🙂
They do it because now they can. They give above and beyond because once upon a time…they couldn’t.

Isabelle had a beautiful tree, a beautiful home to celebrate it in, she’s surrounded by pictures of her Mommy and Daddy in all the places they’ve visited, she woke up to gifts that Santa brought, I got to watch her squeal with delight as she played with toys and ripped open gifts, she sat and played with toys as I filled the holiday table with a feast fit for a King….

But it’s the Christmas many years ago – when my family had so little that I remember most. It’s the Christmas that feels like yesterday because in that time – we still shared so much joy and so much love…although there was so little underneath the tree.

Isabelle’s Christmas and the many more to come – I will pray will always be as joyous as the one we had this year. I hope she knows that all the blessings she’ll be showered with stem from a time of sacrifice. I will never forget that one Christmas that changed my heart and made me realize that the day is more than just gifts…it’s about family.

Iz, her cousin Kara and Lola

The life size Santa at my parent’s house…BWAHAHA (so mean..)

Iz, Paige and Levi Christmas Eve

This bear is dressed like Santa

Christmas Eve at Abuelas

Silly Daddy!


**thanks for reading blog readers**


  1. Thank you for sharing your parent's story. We need more people like them in this country. We have much to be grateful for. Merry Christmas!

  2. I got teary reading your story 🙂 I admire your parents 's sacrifices and hard work !! What an inspirational story!