beyond ‘feeling’ christmas

I used to be so enchanted by the poem’ “T’was the night before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore. As a young boy, I had actually memorized it. I especially liked the line ‘while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.’ Christmas was a magical, wonderful time. It was filled with mystery and delight beyond imagination. And the chilly weather, the long nights, and the entire adult world seemed to conspire to make it so for children like me.


I remember eagerly making a lot of ‘sacrifices’ as a kid–not eating, not fighting, doing chores, etc.. since every one of them entitled me to put a piece of hay on our belen to make baby Jesus’ bed softer by Christmas.

But as I gradually got older, Christmas became less and less enchanted. Santa had turned out to be adults I knew. Furthermore, I could feel the stress of Christmas descend on the people who used to seem to effortlessly stage the whole production every year. In place of gifts, the ‘Santas’ would just give money for lack of time to buy stuff, and as I got older, some of them even stopped giving me gifts. It was then when I realized that Christmas was for the smaller kids.

As a young dad, Christmas became magical once more as I played Santa or at least joined in the conspiracy to create the same enchantment for my own kids during the season. I was even able to pass on the sacrifice-for-hay-in-the belen tradition to my kids when they were still tiny.It was good for awhile (for them and me) until they started to grow up.

I must admit that Christmas during the past few years has been quite a drag. And it seems so for many other people I know as well. To be sure, I see no magic in the materialistic frenzy that seems to come over everyone everywhere. And to make matters worse, traffic is awful, the malls are too full, there’s the ‘obligatory’ gifts to buy, there’s food everywhere that is left untouched and uneaten, and expenses are sky high. Throw in the endless parties. In truth, I wish sometimes that I could disappear, skip Christmas and rejoin the rest of the world after New Year’s Eve. It seems more peaceful that way.

This year, I have not bought a single gift and probably will not. Instead of complaining about the absence of the Christmas ‘feeling’, I have decided on a new coping strategy. For this year and for every year after, I will not worry or complain about whether I am feeling the Christmas spirit or not. Let’s face it. I am in my 50’s and I am no longer easily moved by the sensory and tactile thrills of the season. I have decided to free myself from deciding whether Christmas is good or not depending on how I feel or am moved by the spirit. Nor should I rely on how much funds I recieve or give away to make it a good Christmas. In place of trying to get the mood/feeling/ spirit going, I have decided instead to try to BE the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas embodies the characteristics of generosity, joy, childlikeness, compassion, love, friendliness and caring. I shall this Christmas and hence after, try and BE all that! The original Christmas story tells of the Son who embraces being human and gifts the world with peace and salvation. If Christmas is to mean something every year instead of the usual fruitcakes, ham, new gizmos, perhaps going back to the original intent of it is the answer.

So to all, I send towards your direction my joyful, happy and loving wishes and intentions coming from the depth of who I am. May you be gifted with the grace of seeing every day in a new way, free from past hurts, pains. Everyday is a good day, a fresh start.

Maligayang PASKO. May your Christmas be filled with giving and recieving, and may your life be showered with peace and happiness. I promise to go beyond just sending wishes but also quantifying this commitment with my time, effort, friendship, empathy, and goodwill to everyone I meet. Let this be my New Year’s resolution as well.

PS. Last year, it was Quezon on our minds. This year, if you want to make Christmas a special one for the suffering people of flood-stricken Calapan, Mindoro, send stuff (money, clothes, food and even your time in packing the donations) to Eliazo hall at the Ateneo De Manila. I guarrantee you it will make a difference! All good thoughts and actions, big or small, actually do.

18 thoughts on “beyond ‘feeling’ christmas”

  1. this year i broke my own tradition of sending xmas cards & buying presents.i,too, am trying to focus on the real meaning of christmas – giving & sharing love & peace to everyone esp those who are in need.
    May the joy of Christmas be with you & your family! And God bless!!!

  2. girlie–hgood for you. It’s good to put simplicity back to Christmas.

    Screwedup–And to you to and your family, merry Christmas as well.

  3. Malipayong Pasko og Masadyang bag-ong tuig sa imo og sa imong pamilya!

    p.s.
    I cant wait to get hold your third book, Humming My Universe to complete my collection. Too bad National Bookstore doesnt carry your book online.

  4. Hey jassy, salamat. Merry Krismas din.

    balikbayan box–Humming is actually my first. the second is Between Blinks and the third is Writing On Water. Whatever you read, please let me know what you think!

    Salamat and merry Christmas!

  5. Malipayon nga Paskua kag Mauniswagon nga Bag-ong Tuig Jim.

    I found myself still buying gifts for the littles ones this Christmas, although I’ve learned to be practical about it. I always look forward to bright smiles and the “wow!”. Kids are so easy to please. I want Santa to be real for them, at least for a few more years 😀

  6. Hi Jim,
    Its me again :). Thanks for your reply to my previous message.
    It’s really fun and enlightening to read your blog because it widens my understanding on so many things I previously take for granted. I am now developing the habit of reading your blog first even before I browse anybody else’s.
    My wife loves your blog, too, and she had tears in her eyes when she read your reply to my message.
    Anyway, it is only now that I learned you have already written three books!
    I plan to buy them on the 26th as my belated Christmas present to myself!
    Again, my warmest greetings to you and your loved ones this Christmas 🙂

  7. this we know but choose to ignore: the hypercommercialization of Christmas has a corrosive impact on family. but it does’nt mean that material gift-giving should be set aside.

    your practicality is probably of the same breath’s as joker arroyo’s some time back – when he gave members of congress with locally-made jams and locally-harvested coffee by the benedictine monks.

    maligayang pasko, jim.

  8. some of my friends have been chastising me for not being the christmas “spirit”.. and by that, i mean being excited about buying/getting presents. i even felt a bit guilty. i just think that the real meaning of christmas has been a little bit lost…

    thanks for the post… i guess i’m not only one that thinks that christmas can sometimes be a drag.

    but anyways.. merry christmas and happy new year to you and your family!

  9. ilongga70–yes, you should. It doesn’t last forever. People ‘outgrow’ santa soon enough!

    dennis–thanks. Will put up the next entry hopefully in 2 days. Hope you enjoy my books.

    cbs-Often, my wife and I give presents we make ourselves. In her case, it’s pottery which she designed, etc.. I know what yoyu mean by the hypercommercialisation of Christmas.

    ang, kadyo–Thanks. May you have the best Christmas ever too.

  10. Sir Jim thanks for the wonderful thought.it made a postive vibe out afterall.it made me feel good just to hear it!!!thanks.may santa bless you with more gifts and good fortune.kidding.

  11. Merry Christmas Jim! I’m always thrilled whenever there is a re-release of the old APO albums. I just got the IN CONCERT and COLLECTOR’s ITEM CD set for Christmas and it’s great to hear the group’s very early stuff! Is IN CONCERT your very first album?

    I would love to see a rerelease of “Pagkatapos ng Palabas”, “Songwriter”, and “DalawapunAPO Sila” concert. Ang galing ng concert na yun!

    Take care, and have a great New Year!

  12. alright..this is an off topic question..

    wats an ISO (50/100/200/400)?i see it always on my digi cam..but i dont know what it’s for.forgive my dumb question,but nonetheless,i need your answer.also, how can i avoid red eye during night shots?

    btw,thank you for your kind words (’twas bout your response on my last comment)

    Merry Christmas po!

  13. egay–you’re welcome. heh heh!

    gerry-Colector’s Item was a private copy of our supposedly farewell performance after college. We were really RAW then. The others have been reissued but have ran out again. Will let youy know when they are re-issued once more. Check the APO page.

    bilang-ako–ISO is the capacity of film to absorb light. The higher the number, the more you can capture available light. Night shots are generally shot with higher ISO. Lower ISO’s though are much better at capturing detail but you need to be very steady when it is dark, otherwise, they blur easily. This is a general description of it. You can get really creaytive playing with ISO.

    Use your anti-red eye flash to take out red eye. It’s the series of lights that blibk fast before the main flash comes.

  14. thank you very much for your response.read the morning paper (bulletin)today…sadly,picture perfect has only one page.nyway, Merry Christmas again =) i just thought Christmas is also about the family..and of course, sharing your blessing to people you don’t know–no pretensions,no hesitations…just pure sharing =)

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