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.