It’s official! The lights are up in Makati. There’s no escaping it. My favorite singer says, “You Can’t Stop Christmas.”
Oh, how that inexorable countdown haunts us. The evening news has it; the social networks, street advertising and the newspapers all tick away our remaining shopping days. Just when we think we are done, they tell us to “check it out twice” and all that hype about naughty or nice.
The ominous countdown started about a hundred days ago. Suddenly, we have less than 50 days until Christmas. I was in the shops regularly last month. And still I am not done? What happened to me after Halloween and Undas?
Fired by the excitement of my sister’s impending visit from Atlanta, I was determined to get everything done to make sure we had time to bond and plan our Australia jaunt. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men!
Trivia. Where does that expression come from? American novelist John Steinbeck, who wrote “Of Mice and Men,” borrowed the title from a poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse.” The line goes: “the best laid plans of mice and men, go often awry and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy.”
Pain and grief hit me when I received news that her trip was postponed for a better time, maybe early next year. Oh well, based on the countdown, 2013 is just around the corner.
How true the Spanish saying, “El hombre propone, y Dios dispone.”
Despite the downer, it was an exciting week. Great grandchild number 5, a beautiful baby boy, was born Nov. 3, a tad early for the new mom and dad. It was an emotional night for all.
We were like a barangay that took up residence in the comfortable waiting lounge of the new and fabulous St. Luke’s Medical Center. I guess this is what family is all about. In good and bad times, joy or stress, we stay close. We move in groups; according to a grandson, much like a herd.
I would rather picture us like geese, flying in V formation. The lead goose flaps its wings and creates an uplifting force in the air so that the rest of the gaggle may stay on course. Did you know that when one goose gets tired and drops back, another one rises to take its position? And if one of them gets sick and is forced to land, two geese fall out of the V as protective escorts and descend as well. Very wise, these geese. So don’t let anybody call you a silly goose.
There was a lot of praying, conferring, comparing, and even some betting in the holding room. The indicated C-section was done in record speed. The bet closest to 9:37 p.m. won the pot.
Outside the OR, we strained behind the red line, beyond which it was forbidden to stray. We were a mixed lot. Ages ranged from 8-88. I even spotted the number three highest official of the land smiling behind a sterile mask. What an auspicious welcome for Baby Lucas!
More excitement! On Wednesday (Tuesday in America), we watched voters go to the polls in the morning and the election results that night. To a Filipino this is nothing short of miraculous.
Reelected President Barack Obama has another four years to get his country back on its feet and on track. But first he must remind 300 million Americans that the U in USA stands for “united.”
Are you ready for the holidays? I am never prepared for the inevitable weight gain. But the feasts come and I always indulge. And alas! My scales don’t lie.
In my family, our celebrations are long drawn. We have early Christmas lunch or dinner for those of us who have to bring their “ho ho ho” elsewhere across the seas. We get together, eat of course, and open gifts. The packages from the rest of the family remain under the tree until Christmas Day.
Times have changed, and much tradition has been set aside because of our jetsetter lifestyles. It used to be an unwritten law that everyone, child or grownup, offspring or sibling must be present around the Noche Buena table on Christmas Eve. No exceptions. No excuses.
Not anymore, sad to say. For the umpteenth time I thank God for the new technologies. Today we can Skype or Face time, text, chat or e-mail our holiday sentiments. Love travels cyberspace in just one click.
This year I got my Christmas bonus early. My fourth child, the girl twin, came home in September, and this year she gets to hang her American stocking with her Pinoy family for the first time in over 25 years. I love it!
So what’s in store for Christmas Eve? Every year we gather in my eldest daughter’s home and have a simple but delightful dinner. We open a few gifts. There’s a lot of hugging and kissing. Then they all leave to greet their in-laws.
I have a little respite before we get together again a couple of hours later, for more partying in another daughter’s home. We sit in her lovely garden, sipping wine, singing Christmas carols. Sometimes carolers come to share their music. Makes me all weepy and mellow.
The party continues till the wee hours. And while the young ones make their own new memories, my mind will wander off, as it usually does, to Christmases long ago and far away.
I will sneak out early again this year and hurry home to crawl into bed, snuggle under the covers, hug my pillows and reminisce.
In the solitude of my bedroom, I light up my memory Christmas tree. Gently I undo the ribbons of each gift and once again remember names and faces of those I once loved and have never forgotten. I relish and savor the joys of my life. My blessings are far too many for me to count. My heart is full! “My cup runneth over.”