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Not Quite There

Christmas and the rest of our bonus years

By: - Columnist
/ 05:02 AM December 16, 2018

As we grow older and more vulnerable to the painful vicissitudes of life, my classmates and I, widows except for a few—as well as others with whom we still share values—have become closer in love and friendship. We know each other well and have gone through many years of being there for one another in times happy and sad, in particular in times of heavy losses.

I remember those whom we have lost, friends whose true friendships I miss especially at Christmastime. For those of us who have lived long enough, Christmas is one of those times that can be both happy and sad.

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It’s a definite consolation that there’s more of us still around and that we’re able to bond even more constantly through modern technology,  through Viber—we’re its Major Green Froggies—and other net connections.

Those friendships are growing as other like-minded and like-hearted souls join our groups. I’m particularly surprised how quickly deep friendships are formed in the streets among people of like political persuasion, some I’ve known at some innocent time in my youth and others more recently. My husband and I feel blessed this late in our lives for those friendships.

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I like to think I have become a more quality-conscious person in old age, whether it’s with things I buy or with people I spend my time, and most especially at Christmas. I want to do most everything meaningfully, with some higher purpose.

How quickly life can change, how drastically our lives can be altered by one fall, by a memory lapse, by one moment preventable or not.

While still in command of my faculties, I want all my Christmases to be special for me, my family and friends. And what could be a more precious gift to loved ones from a senior like me of limited resources other than my residual time and energy?

The season usually brings Vergel and me and some family to Baguio. This time my eldest son Rob, and youngest son Tex with his wife Rheena, and his 11-year-old Mona, will join us for three nights.

Christmas Eve, as is our tradition, Vergel, I and Rob will be with my daughter, Gia, her husband Luijo, and family at their place. On Christmas Day, my whole family is welcome to lunch at cousin Ninit’s, where I look forward to seeing most of her family and extended family, who, without fail, drop by at some point.

In between we make time to be with Vergel’s own children and grandchildren, who stay around all day on reunion days for eats, tennis, and all other sorts of fun.

I continue to miss my son in San Francisco and my first grandson in Hawaii, otherwise, I could indeed say, “My cup runneth over!”

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This Christmas, St. Theresa (STC) and Maryknoll classmates decided to have our joint Christmas party at Anabel’s, a classmate from college at STC, Manila, and a fellow “aquabelle” of ours in whose house we do our water exercises, after which we sit down to a power breakfast.

Anabel’s home is every child and adult’s Christmas dream house; even her garden is bedecked with poinsettias in pots. Instead of having an exchange gift, we all decided to skip gifts for one another and donate instead to a charity.

Anabel, a benefactor of Tahanang Walang Hagdan for many years, as her mother before her, made it easy for us. Every year, to thank her for her yearly support, a representative group from Tahanan comes to sing carols and share a meal with everyone. We timed our Christmas lunch for the same day so we could meet, listen and give our donations.

But not to be deprived of girlish fun ourselves, we, at Anabel’s suggestion, had an exchange of white elephants (unused, useless stuff to its owners but a welcome to others). Indeed, we had a good time rolling the dice for items to be won.

It’s amazing how so little we need for ourselves that it’s become so much easier to give things away. I guess that’s what, in a small way, garage sales and, in a bigger way, auctions are for.

Looking for a white-elephant gift for the party, I found so many in my closets, like the forlorn toys left behind by the departed little boy blue of Eugene Field’s poem, waiting for someone to use and love, at last!

Christmas is about generosity. But it’s not just about emptying our closets of excess baggage and giving them away or about feasting and bingeing. It’s about recognizing the rightful King in our lives, which begins at Advent, when we prepare ourselves for His coming again.

How many years have we been given, as seniors, to prepare for this coming! Is God indeed the most important in our lives? If He were, we would be living in peace and harmony within ourselves and with others. We would be grateful for everything, good or bad! Especially now, when we know how, in the end, everything works out for our own good.

And in the serenity and joy of that inner state, live the rest of our bonus years in peace, prosperity and harmony. Only then can our material and political world become the same.

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