As they say, the Philippines is among the countries with the longest Christmas celebrations. As soon as the ‘-ber’ months come in, Christmas preparations already begin for most Filipinos. In fact, as we approach the Halloween, I’m inclined to think that we can’t wait to get the Halloween past us, done and over with, so that we can focus once again on Christmas. It’s like we prepare for Christmas since September, then get side-tracked a bit due to Halloween, and as soon as it’s over, Christmas preparations once again go in full swing. And as I grow older, the appeal of Christmas to me seems to be changing. I’m no longer that excited for Christmas. In fact, I feel anxious at times. Something has changed in me.
About 2 years ago, I had a realization that maybe, just maybe, I was in the phase of my life when I was starting to outgrow Christmas. Around 3 years on the job and out of college (back then), I had the feeling that I was not looking forward to Christmas as much as I used to. Somehow, it made me think what our old folks say that Christmas is just for kids.
I’d like to think whether this is a sad but true reality for me. When I was younger, I look forward to Christmas as a season of love, of giving, even with just simple means and celebrations. A season of renewed hope, faith and love. Material resources did not matter that much back then, but it was more of loved ones being together. Family and friends, caroling, enjoying a simple salu-salo. Even with no gifts to each other.
But now, as Christmas draws near, I feel the pressure. I look forward to it as a time to rest, to be with loved ones. Yes these remain the same. But now, there is pressure to spend, to prepare, gift-giving, decorate our homes, etc.A step away from the tiring world of work and a step inside the world of holiday expenditure. The commercialized Christmas. Do our parents feel the same way?
Does it come with age? Now that I am also producer and not solely a consumer in the value chain of life, I guess it is expected that Christmas season will feel different for me. I am no longer just a guest of the season, but also a host of the season. I am no longer a kid that is, but an adult. No longer just a gift and money recipient. But a gift-giver, provider and a ninong already.
This season, and all next Christmas seasons that will come, the challenge for me, and to all those who can relate, is to be like Mary, in the story of Martha, Mary and Jesus (Lk 10: 38-42).
I remember that Mary was also a host to Jesus, but she was able to see through all the busyness and expenses that it entailed. She was able to be a good company and host to Jesus, unlike Martha who was so caught up in the dilly-dallys of the season.