December! And with it comes an overload of tinsel, sparkle and shine. This is it. It is just a matter of a couple of weeks. Are you excited?
There are millions of lights, more than we can count. Every single song announces the season of joy. Are you tuned in to the messages of peace, hope and love?
Or is it just another Christmas for you?
I think we have all reached that point at one time or another when we don’t join the singing and rejoicing but moan and groan instead.
Several years ago I dreaded December. On top of getting a year older, this season of “the warm and fuzzies” was just not where my heart wanted to go. I was stuck between angry and sad. It felt like the tight embrace of the holiday season was for everyone else but me. I refused to give in to the sounds and smells of Christmas. I couldn’t get out of my weepy wailing mode. It was dark inside my soul.
Crazy? I know. But there are many who today are going through their own kind of bleak, black Christmas. The lights make no difference. Some actually fake the “spirit” just to make people around them happy. “For their sake I make-believe that I am in a holiday mood,” my friend tells me. “But truth be told, I feel like crying.”
For people of age, Christmas can get a little wearisome. No longer spry enough to shop till we drop, we give our list and money to whoever volunteers to brave the crowds for us. We don’t know what the children wish for but we know what we can’t afford. And so it becomes a “just to have something under the tree” exercise. This defeats the very spirit of giving.
I remember how we used to line up for hours, waiting for the store to open, hoping to find just the right thing, praying it would go on sale, and paying through the nose when it didn’t. That was part of the Christmas atmosphere.
At home, in between sips of hot salabat, we assembled bikes, trimmed the tree and baked cookies, gift-wrapped surprises and made pretty bows. On Christmas morning it was the happiest kind of chaos with wrappers and ribbons all over the house.
I miss even the “been-there-done-that” part of Christmas. Somehow it never grew old. But I guess I did.
A colleague explained this state of mind: “It is because we don’t make Christmas happen anymore. Our turn is over. We feel left out. Someone else is weaving the magic.”
How did Christmas become the gift-giving extravaganza of the year? Some blame advertising. Others quote Scripture.
For most, it is bonus time and people can’t wait to hit the stores and spend it all. In the US, the shopping frenzy starts on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, “when people trample others for cheap goods mere hours after thanking God for what they already have.”
So who is on your Christmas list?
At “Without Walls,” our church in Alabang, we have “Noche Buena Bucket Challenge.” On our list are the hundreds of families who live in three small enclaves in Muntinlupa. If sales (P500 for a bucket full of noche buena goodies) continue to move as briskly as they started, it will be a festive and delicious Christmas Eve for all.
Have you made your list? Checked it twice? Was your heart engaged? A rewrite may be necessary. Look around you and discover why it can never be just another Christmas.
We are doing something different. Our family has decided to “light the lights for others” this year. The only ones with presents under the tree will be the little ones. And we will love watching them as they rip open our lovingly wrapped packages. Oh, to see the wonder in their eyes. Yes, the children will bring it all back.
Gift of love
It all started with a child after all, who in fulfillment of prophecy was born of a virgin in a stable 2,000 years ago. And the wise men, led by a star, brought Him gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.
As we think about the symbolism of their gifts, we may miss the entire message of that centuries-old tableau.
For in the heart of that shabby stable, wrapped in swaddling cloth, was our Gift from the Father who “so loved the world He gave His only son so that those who believe in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The Gift was given in love. Can anyone out-give our Creator?
Please get the memo, folks. Let us not miss it again this year. It tells us, loud and clear: “Christmas is not about you.”
All is bright
Someone close to my heart read my column a few Sundays ago, where I reminisced about a white tasseled old-fashioned farol from the good old days. A few days before Thanksgiving, she gave me three. Her card was precious.
Talk about a spirit booster!
One hangs outside the front door of my casita and another one in my little pocket garden in the back.
And every night, when I turn off my lights, I bask in the glow of that one star outside my bedroom window.
From my bed I watch it sway in the breeze, its mellow peaceful light not intruding on the night but quietly keeping me company, reminding me of other Christmases, under different skies, when all was right with my world.