Manila Bulletin

The quar­an­tine chron­i­cles: Week 31

- ALEX M. EDUQUE Good News · Celebrations · William Welch

When I turned on my tele­vi­sion last Sun­day and tuned in to a va­ri­ety show, the open­ing num­ber was a med­ley of Filipino Christ­mas carols. Al­though we are well into the “ber” months, I must ad­mit that the past month has been ex­ces­sively busy for me for per­sonal rea­sons that I have not had much time to leisurely sit and chill at all. I will not lie — part of me misses the early quar­an­tine months of laz­ing around and slow liv­ing, but I am not at all com­plain­ing. Af­ter all, this “new nor­mal” for me is still at a much slower pace than the “old nor­mal,” if you will, that I was ac­cus­tomed to. And see­ing the world get back on its feet, and the econ­omy open­ing up slowly has been quite hope­ful, and gives us the sense of in­vig­o­rat­ing and pos­i­tive en­ergy that we all need and seek these days.

And so there I was — caught of­f­guard as “Ku­mukuti-ku­ti­tap” was sung, fad­ing into “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” and then end­ing with “Pasko Na Na­man.” Be­fore I knew it, a smile was upon my face. I have al­ways been fond of Christ­mas carols, and have al­ways found some­thing so cheery and mo­ti­vat­ing in them. To me, it has al­ways been the quick­est “pickme-up­per” and mood up lifter even in the busiest De­cem­ber grind I have found my­self in. And then there are the Filipino carols that res­onate with me even more, and just tug at my heart strings. Whether they em­u­late the ring­ing of bells, the mo­men­tum of blink­ing Christ­mas lights, or the long­ing sen­ti­ments of be­ing far away from home dur­ing the hol­i­days, it cap­tures emo­tions like no other. At a time when I ex­pected it the least, it worked its charm and put me into a fes­tive mood dur­ing a time when Christ­mas ad­mit­tedly is the last thing on my mind.

It got me think­ing — what will Christ­mas be like this year?

Much more muted and quiet, most def­i­nitely. A lot less trav­el­ing, if any at all, and per­haps for some, the first time fam­i­lies gather in num­bers, but with much added pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures. Per­haps this is the time when we will re­al­ize the truest mean­ing and essence of Christ­mas — that it is not about the gifts sur­round­ing the tree, nor the tra­di­tions that we have up­held and kept for years. That in fact, Christ­mas is about be­ing with your loved ones, and af­ter the year that has been, there is no other Christ­mas I feel when to­geth­er­ness will be val­ued more than this up­com­ing one. Per­haps this is the year to forego ma­te­rial gifts all to­gether, or if you feel it is com­pul­sory, do­nate to a cause on be­half of your fam­ily and friends in lieu of a to­ken. As ironic as it may seem, this hol­i­day sea­son will per­haps have the Christ­mas spirit ring­ing loud­est and true.

The spirit of shar­ing and giv­ing

— not only to those around you, but most es­pe­cially, to those who need it most. The home­com­ing of ba­lik­bayans and over­seas Filipino work­ers (OFWs) will be even more cher­ished given the pan­demic, and the time they will get to spend with their fam­i­lies, in­valu­able. Truly, the gift of time is one that is most pre­cious and ir­re­place­able. For many, Christ­mas this year might even be dreaded given tight bud­gets and the hur­dle that has been 2020, but know­ing the Filipino spirit and re­siliency, I be­lieve our peo­ple will over­come – we al­ways have, and al­ways will find a way to cel­e­brate even at the grimmest of times and sit­u­a­tions. Af­ter all, we are not the Christ­mas cap­i­tal of the world for noth­ing.

Heads and chins up high, seek the sil­ver lin­ing, and fo­cus on the pos­i­tive. Even in the ab­sence of carol­ers, Sim­bang Gabi, and the non-stop mer­ry­mak­ing, let the Christ­mas bells and spirit ring through to your heart. Af­ter all, we cel­e­brate the birth of our sav­ior Je­sus Christ. And the truest essence of it is to let Him into our homes and hearts by real­iz­ing what Christ­mas truly means, and prac­tic­ing its very mean­ing through­out the Yule­tide sea­son and al­ways.

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