Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

The in-between time

Posted on December 30, 2006 by jimparedes

Humming in my UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
The Philippine STAR 12/31/2006

One great big event is over.
Christmas, that moment we anticipate all year long, is almost always a big event for everyone, especially for the children. How can it not be? Christmas is a time when kids get a crack at the jackpot, acquire the goodies they’ve long desired from Santa, their parents, aunties and uncles, ninongs and ninangs.

For us adults, it is a time for giving, which means frantic spending, spending and more spending. We work ourselves into a frenzy decorating our homes to welcome friends and loved ones. For an increasing number of Filipinos, Christmas is all about coming home as balikbayans from somewhere abroad, or being visited abroad by relatives from home.

In the Philippines, Christmas is the culmination of a three-month build-up that starts with the first Christmas carols played over the radio in September and continues into the “ber” months until the end of the Misa de Gallo on Christmas Eve. All over the country, everywhere you look, you see reminders of Christmas or the anticipation of it. The malls, and almost every business establishment and office, are decked out with boughs of holly and trimmings weeks before the event itself. You would have to be deaf to miss Christmas since the noise and gaiety are all over the place, courtesy of the radio, your neighbor’s TV and, closer to Christmas, the pesky neighborhood carolers.

Then a week after Christmas is the other Great Big One – New Year’s Eve. It’s party time and, for many people, it’s time to gorge and drink themselves blind. There is just no chance of life returning to normal until after all these bacchanalian rituals have transpired.

Call me a Grinch, but there is something about this entire holiday season that stopped appealing to me years ago. I feel, and I’ve heard many people say, that the Christmas season, as we know it now, is overrated. All the excess that accompanies Christmas has killed the thrill of it for me, and dimmed the glow that I used to feel even just thinking about Yuletide.

Christmas is simply too nerve-wracking a time, what with the traffic, large crowds at the malls, the obligatory gifts one must give. While stuck in holiday traffic in the past, it has crossed my mind that Christmas as we know it now should only be celebrated once every two or three years.

The entire buildup to the season has become too stressful. There is a neurotic “need” to celebrate and have fun at all cost. Why? Because it’s Christmas and one should be happy at Christmas. There is even a “politically correct” way to be happy during the holidays, and that is to celebrate it materialistically – to feel good by receiving or buying the latest this or that – a view peddled by big consumer companies and commercial establishments.

Surely, one cannot fail to see the madness of the whole thing. I find the entire ideal being peddled of resolute partying and materialism distasteful, trite and vulgar. And that is why I have largely dropped out of that Christmas scene.

To me, the most interesting part of the season is the six-day period after Christmas and before New Year’s. Usually, during those in-between days, I just go into a drift until the evening of December 31. While we get to see friends and family, eat party food and exchange gifts, compared to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, these days are not spectacular. They are even less than ordinary because there is really nothing happening anywhere.

The days stand out in their simplicity between two elaborately celebrated occasions. If we were talking music, they would be grace notes in between loud and memorable themes, or the rests or silences between notes played fortissimo. They could also be compared to the moment between inhaling and exhaling, or the gaps between words, the links that hold the beads of a necklace together. They are understated and uneventful days, but they are necessary and crucial to my sanity.

During those in-between days, I slow down. I have no agenda and spend my time not so much at rest but with nothing specific and necessarily useful to do. The days between Christmas and New Year’s are for on-the-spot indulging in whatever I fancy. I sleep as much as I want, go on the long drive I’ve always wanted to take or just lie down and read a book, take a long walk, or sip wine in the evening while staring at the sunset.

It is a time when the body recuperates, the spirit stops being purposeful and goes on being mode; a time to take stock of the year just passed and reflect on how we spent, wasted, enjoyed or hated it. Perhaps we were even oblivious to it. It is a time to weigh things and determine what they’re worth to us, a time to let go of some of our dreams and unresolved, energy-draining concerns, to mourn losses and failed endeavors. Or it could be a time to celebrate our victories and relish good memories, draw up new dreams and aspirations and plan on new sights, vistas and involvements for our spirit to meander in.

When I allow my body and my spirit this down time, I find that I become more grounded and I am able to make more realistic and meaningful New Year’s resolutions. During this hiatus, I try to synchronize myself with the New Year ahead, and the new shot at renewal and redemption that it promises.
* * *
Write to jim_paredes@yahoo.com.

0 to “The in-between time”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yup, Christmas is over.

    Now we wait for another 364 days.

    We still have New Year though.

    So… Happy New Year!

    There’s a gift waiting for you and fellow bloggers in my blogsite.

    Make sure you click on “Gift”


  2. GreenMangoes says:

    I do feel that way as you do, sir jim!

    It’s like every inch of the words typed here is what i so feel from these celebrations… even to my own birthday.

    I guess i have became the grinch, already. =)


    Sir Jim, I’d like to ask…

    How can we solve overrating christmas and holidays? So that it shall be appealing again to me and to others who feel the same as you?

  3. VICKY says:

    Happy New Year APO Jim! May 2007 be a great one for you. Am done with elaborate xmas adornments- i aim for something simple nowadays and it could be laziness or just changing priorities. Yeah for adults like us we do the giving but my kids are also saving up and giving me something now. Receiving something from the kids is really a big deal for me- not so much on the gift that they give but the thought and the fact that my values had ‘rubbed in’ on them and for me it’s a great xmas spirit.

  4. Bass Poet says:

    Hi Sir Jim,

    Happy New Year! Society has condition us to celebrate the Christmas Season materialistically. The commercialization of Christmas has become a way of life for a lot of us and I myself was a victim of it.

    The Christmas season just does not begin on Advent season and ends at the coming of the Three Kings. I would love to have our Filipino Parols hanging at our veranda and Christmas tree and lights shining every day and the whole year as a reminder that the Christmas spirit is alive within us 365 days a year.

    2007 is almost in gear in Toronto and what you’ve written Sir Jim made me realize to do more soul searching in focusing less on the material values and more on my being. Pls. pray for me to be more consistent with my life in being a true agent and representative of the Christmas spirit each day of my life.

    Manigong bagong taon sa lahat!

  5. Amery Celiza says:

    I like christmas because of christmas songs and all the wonderful, twinkling lights. My mom was never into that whole ‘celebrate with a bang’ thing and when I was younger, I used to envy others who had huge parties, gave out lots of gifts and just partied the whole season away. Now, I’d like to think that I understand why Mom insisted on a simple Christmas with family and close friends. Christmas is, indeed, more special when you spend it with the people who’ve been there the whole year.

    Happy New Year, Sir! 🙂 May you and your loved ones be blessed a hundredfold this 2007.

  6. Jim says:

    russkal–thanks for the gift!

    greenmangoes-We can make Christmas less overrated by responding to it in our own way which does not have to be dictated by the commercial enticements of businesses, and to make it a more meaningful , soulful one. A quiet evening doing charity work, for example or giving anonymously.

    Vicky–yes, it is a GREAT feeling when our kids give us anything!

    bass poet–everyday is christmas. I like that!

    amery–merry christmas gto you too and may your year be blest with God;s abundance.

  7. john says:

    happy new year jim!i’m one of your biggest fan. i can’t wait to read your blog every week.i’ve been living here in u.s.a for 21 years i might say you hit that right holidays here are so overrated.i miss the christmas back in philippines were you can feel the spirit of the holidays,people here are so materialistic i guess majority of us forgot the real meaning of christmas.

  8. Alpha_One says:

    I stopped being excited by Chirstmas when I stopped being a little child. As a teenager, all my relatives give me is money, which I find a bit “forced” and totally uncreative. Or maybe they just couldn’t find any more of those P100 inventory sale copies of Songbuk or The Worst of Apo. =D (yun ang Christmas wish ko sa kanila, seryoso)

    If you think Christmas is overrated, then what should New Year be then… really nothing new about the New Year other than a new calendar. I personally am not a “new year” type of person. Call me a cynic but I don’t find the numbers rolling over to be any sort of a big deal. Maybe it’s because as a kid all I got during new year was asthma! I mean, today “New Quarter” and “New Month” would be much more of a big deal. We might as well celebrate “New Day” (wheee discreet reference!). =D

    I fully agree with you with Dec. 26-31. It’s the most relaxing time of the year, when everyone’s so laid back not having to worry about silly rubbish to give away.

  9. malon says:

    i agree….
    too much induldgement in material things…..

    last year i spent dec 25-31 drinking all day and night… and at last got sick of it…..

    happy new year!

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