It's Christmas time again!
Peoples from all races celebrate Christmas in many ways. But I am most inclined how Christmas is celebrated in my own beloved country. Although a very good friend and mentor of mine who is a foreigner now living back to his country after sharing his life with the people from Mindanao for almost twenty (20) years, Fr. Michel de Gigord, MEP, described that most of his countrymen celebrated it away from the true essence of Christmas by alluding the celebration to Sta. Klaus instead of Christ Himself, the commercialization of the celebration makes people shy away from giving real love to others if they are not able to give gifts, all these and other activities misguided the people of who and what we are celebrating for. It could indeed be alarming but it is a reality in most First World Countries. He further supposed that Philippines is still celebrating it with grand sharing of love with families, friends and small various organizations despite the few and cheap foods found in the table.
Then his observation and comparison brings me to reflect as to what is actually happening here in our country. Has his observation that we Filipinos celebrate it with much love remains the way we celebrate Christmas? Then, I begin it myself, with my own experience of Christmas celebrations. And in so doing, it brings me back to my childhood and all the years that follows.
I was born on Christmas eve to parents who desires for the gift of a child of their marriage of five years. Being born into that circumstance gave me the privilege of a being a child surrounded and raised with love. Every Christmas was a joyful occasion of the family, my birthday added to the bonding of love, not just to my family, to my relatives but also to the Catholic faithfuls in our little chapel, who for lack of priest, do it by "Katilingbanong Pag-ampo". There are years when money is available but when my father became jobless, we celebrated it very,very simply but the most important ingredient remains felt, the sharing of love to one another, the deliberate effort to make others feel that he/she is very much love despite shortcomings as a family member. It has always been a time of showing unconditional love. I remembered the hugs and kisses from my parents, my sister and brothers, my aunties and my uncles. All these made my birthday and Christmas celebrations a beautiful time for love.
When I grew up, I learned to make it my own too! Despite lack of finances, I always try to find ways in making my love expressed to all my love ones especially to my parents who as I observed had so much difficulty and trouble in their married life together. I always make it an opportunity to make them aware how deeply grateful I am, that amidst difficulty they stayed together as married people and continued to show to us their deep love and concern. It was also a time to call on all my brothers to stay together in our house at least for one day just to feel one another's presence. And all of us are looking forward to it!
Time flies and all of us are married except my fourth brother. Although I am the eldest, I married late so there was a time when my being single brings a lot of opportunity in uniting the entire family, my brothers and sister, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and this time I am already a "Tita" to new members of our family. All the same, with or without much food in the table, it always feel good to be with one another's presence. I always bring my niece and nephews to sing a birthday song to Jesus. And it feels good knowing that the reason why we gather is because we are remembering Him who created us all, on the day He made Himself like one of us.
But my own marriage seems to almost change it all. I do not share the same ways of celebration as my husband does. To him, all this food matters, the system do matter. It's not that I cannot appreciate it, but if all these replace the essence of my Christmas, replacing LOVE with food availability in the table, then it could make me utterly miserable in my Christmas and my birthday as well. All Iwant is to spend it with my love ones.
It brings me back to my reflection: It is not the outward celebration that matters. If I have no finances to bring food to my table on Christmas, then only the spirit of love could make the celebration of Christmas truly an occasion of joy that comes from Christ. He who is God and became our Savior born in a manger of Bethlehem can only be the reason why Christmas is here! Oh Holy Night!
Tomorrow, the Misa de Gallo will start. I have a special intention to pray for. And most of all, I pray that everyone will come back to celebrate Christmas centering it on Christ alone and a veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mother who so willingly made herself a Mother to this God becoming man and to the chaste Spouse St. Joseph. May the image of this Holy Family brings all families together in their knees in joyful coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.