Christmas has not been the same for me since I joined the media. But what can you expect from a job that favors the fresh and non-ordinary over the monotony of rituals? Or one that does not respect weekends and most holidays? So our offices have to be closed every December 24-25. How else can we be made to feel the season’s spirit?
Consider that it will be but three days to Christmas, but try monitoring the output of the main pages of newspapers and the news and public affairs sections of radio and television. Politics, conflicts, crime, controversies—what one reads, sees and hears give one a sense of life’s chaos. They make one long for that serenity in the Bethlehem of old.
We decorated the house for Christmas a few days after All Souls Day. My wife Edizza was very pregnant then. I remember going to the nearest store to buy cheap but presentable Christmas lights to replace the busted ones from last year’s celebration. The one-year-old twin of our neighbor would later visit to stare in wonder at those lights.
I did want the spirit of the season to blanket us early. But the goal was derailed a bit by the coming of a second son, Eldrick Khan, last Nov. 17. For days, we concentrated on the ritual of birth and the energy and resources required for it in these modern times. Our lives have stabilized and once more we have noticed our Christmas tree and lights.
Last week, the season’s spirit finally hugged me. For days, I was irritated by the frequency with which kids in the neighborhood went caroling, thinking they were abusing our kindness. That irritation barked at my conscience when I saw the smile on the face of a girl after receiving the P5 I gave her. I was staring at the face of Christmas.
Or I was staring at the child I once was. We were nine children in a family that largely depended on the salary of our father Tiyong, a salesman of a soft drink firm, and whatever was earned from the sari-sari store ran by my mother Juling. Despite the difficulties, Christmases with the family and our neighbors were always memorable.
Those were Christmases when we were young and carefree—before we had our own families and making both ends meet became our main concern. We kids in the neighborhood would go around caroling with our flattened tansans and offbeat singing, either running away laughing when driven away or smiling widely with every cent given.
If only we didn’t become adults. Anyway, Merry Christmas to all!
–-Candido O. Wenceslao (I wrote this for Sun.Star Cebu and came out on December 22, 2006)