I love a parade. We don’t have enough of those here in the Philippines. The sound of a marching band has always excited me. I love the music of John Philip Sousa.
As a little girl, my parents used to take my sister and I to Luneta for “Serenata,” an evening concert by the Philippine Constabulary Band. Once in a while, my mother would sing with them. It was lovely. But I was scared of the timpani.
When I lived in Manhattan several years ago, I looked forward to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We watched from a window in a friend’s posh apartment on Central Park West where it was warm and toasty, and flowing with drinks. From the inflating of the mammoth balloons to the shrill sound of the whistle signaling the start of the parade, we hung out of the windows, eager for the festivities to begin.
From my cozy perch, I wondered how it would feel to stand on the sidewalk with the rest of the multitude and feel the throb of the band under my feet. I was so tempted to step out and march to the blare of the horns and the beat of the mighty drums.
Imagine me, kicking up my heels alongside a smartly uniformed man twirling a baton, keeping time with the trumpets, the bassoons and the entire percussion section. What a thrill. What a sight!
(I can hear my children gasp. But I think my grandchildren would approve.)
I never did it. It was always too cold.
Something inside me still wishes I had. Something tells me I missed out.
‘Done it all’
I have a friend who says she has “done it all.” Well, maybe except for bungee jumping. And, like she says, there is always time for one more adventure. She is in her 80s.
Some of us go through life with a long list of could-haves. Most of us have endless “should-haves.” Then there are the “what ifs.”
Here are some of mine.
My trips abroad have been to places where I have family and friends. That’s wonderful. But I always wanted to go to Greece, where I know no one.
I could have done that, but well, the time was never right. I was either too tired, or maybe just scared. (Or too broke?)
I could have taken that writing assignment last year. I should have dared to champion lost causes. Why not? Someone may have read my words and taken heart.
As a woman, I have told myself time and again that I could have fought. But did I really want to?
The mother in me still asks “what if” she had stayed?
How true it is that hindsight is 20/20. But the past is past and should stay there. Youth is reckless and thoughtless. Love is blind or refuses to see. But God’s mercy abounds and leaves no room for regrets.
What matters is that we choose to keep moving forward. A wise man once said: “Life must be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.”
Life is never a level, smooth or gently meandering road. The bumps come when you least expect them and there are many potholes along the way. Sharp twists and turns catch you by surprise. No one said this would be an easy ride.
But life is exciting! Embrace it! Enjoy it. Live it!
Time flies. We are almost done with trick-or-treating and as we tear down the pumpkins and witches, we start to dust off the tinsel and silver bells. Patiently, we test our Christmas lights.
I am desperately looking for the yellow star that I put up in 2009. We had no other farol that year or the following year, and it stayed up in the tall tree in front of our house until someone took it down to spare it from the last typhoon. I was personally attached to that star. It represented hope. It still does. I want it back!
In the United States, the holiday season is ushered by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. In my home, in Hawaii or California, the aroma of turkey, bread and sausage stuffing, yams topped with marshmallows, an abundance of dinner rolls, Holly apple pie from Hilo, and mashed potatoes, was the cue for trimming our tree.
But somewhere deep in my heart of hearts, I always missed and longed for noche buena back in my land of the farol, simbang gabi and salabat.
It will be a great Christmas for this balikbayan.
The end of the year always brings with it a celebratory mood. We are gentler, kinder, more giving to one another. Shouldn’t this be true all year? Why do we wait to celebrate?
Let us raise our glasses now! Here’s a toast—To Life! L’chaim!