Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ang Past Ko at ang Pasko

Christmas is just around the corner (ok, a long corner). I was passing through the mall yesterday and noticed that the decorations were already up and the sound system was blasting carols. It’s a Filipino thing – we start preparing for the season as early as September and the commercial establishments are only too willing to cooperate.

But – I digress – this isn’t about how consumerist Christmas has become. This is what I’m thinking:

Christmas for me has always been about family. All my associations – the food, the traditions, the memories – are linked to people who aren’t around anymore. Apart from 1 year when I was studying in the US and 2006 when I couldn’t care less because I was too tired from a funeral – last Christmas was my first time without a place to which to come home.

No, this is not meant to be another post about dead people either. However, with everyone else gone, retired or not around – what’s a mid-lifer supposed to do about Christmas?
This brings me to my point(s).

1. Whatever Auden says, life goes on. You have to create new traditions if you have to. My friends’ “adopted” me into their family for the holidays (with a standing invitation for all holidays thereafter). Their Christmas tradition (having also been orphaned many years ago) is for everyone - wherever they are in the world - to vacation together in some exotic place every year.
Slathering myself with oil and lying under the sun isn’t exactly part of my Christmas lexicon (yet) but – what the hey, there are worse things than sunbathing in Bali.

2. The human spirit is more resilient than we think. Life gives us lemons. We make lemonade. We adjust to our new circumstances. Eventually, we may even thrive on it. While respecting and honoring the past, it should be possible to live in the present and look forward to the future.

3. There are families created from the womb. And there are families created from the heart. I’ve been very fortunate on both counts. However, while the womb can only produce so much (unless you’re that woman from Pensylvania with twins AND sextuplets, and then again you have towonder if she can do it again), the human heart is expandable. There is always room to take in new people into its folds.

This year is going to be as exotic – New York (exotic to me, I’ve travelled quite a bit but I’ve never experienced snow).

I no longer believe in Santa but I am looking forward to a Merry Christmas with my extended family this year.

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