Give time and presence this Christmas | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

It comes every year, without fail and on schedule, so I should be more than ready. Yet, each time, I find myself scrambling like a madwoman to get everything done on time, but always fall short of my goal.


I make the same solemn oath to start earlier the following year, be more organized, create a more efficient system, sleep through the whole season, whatever it may take—but somehow it never happens.


I refer, of course, to Christmas. And once again, I am wondering where the year went, and how it could have possibly gone by so quickly, and how this month seems to be on fast-forward mode!


But then, I stopped and took a deep breath. Not by choice, I have to admit, but rather because my husband scheduled the prime weekend before Christmas for a trip to Bukidnon, and despite my concerns about needing that time for other purposes, a forced timeout was the best thing I could have asked for this December.


Together with our children, we took the first flight out of Manila last weekend and found ourselves leaving our concerns behind, as well.


From the looks of it, this particular season has been busier than those of the last few years, as it has been for most people. It’s meant to be spent with family and friends, yet many of us find ourselves suffering while stuck on the road or in places we least expect. So, to have three full days with my little family was truly heaven-sent.


 Nothing out of the ordinary


The weekend activities with the kids were nothing out of the ordinary. We took them to celebrate with people who have become part of our family.


At home, we watched Christmas movies from my childhood. We found time to videotape special moments and enjoyed the outdoors. Now, more than ever, I have come to appreciate time and presence—and value them as great luxuries.


In this day and age, family time and the presence of all members are becoming increasingly more precious. Many Filipino families take on the challenge of working abroad to provide a brighter future for their loved ones, in the process sacrificing years of memories.


Meanwhile, other families may be geographically together, but their hearts are far apart. Indeed, each member has his or her own challenges, yet continues to make the most out of situations, finding purpose and meaning to daily struggles.


There is something about the holidays that magnifies everything in our lives, both the good and the bad. Personally, I wonder about how this sudden spotlight on the details of our lives affects us, depending on what we make out of Christmas.


All too often, the spirit of this beautiful season can get easily lost amid the whirl of events and never-ending list of things to do. In which case, the message of peace and hope that our Savior’s birth brings is lost upon us.


But when we are able to look beyond the glitter and blur, and give ourselves fully to those we love and those in need, we are presented with the greatest gift of all—love, the meaning of our existence.


Sometimes, I find myself failing to see this as well, and fortunately, this is where our favorite Christmas traditions come in—putting up a tree, enjoying a special treat, seeing loved ones.


Perhaps this is the reason why I hold on tightly to my favorite Christmas tradition: Simbang Gabi. There is palpable peace in the silence of the early mornings as I get get ready to attend the Mass that begins in the dark and ends with sunrise.


My wish is for everyone to have your merriest Christmas ever, full of love, hope and joy—from whichever corner in the world. May your hearts be full and your eyes shine as bright as a child’s, open to the little miracles that Christmas brings.

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