Christmas Village. St. Claus. Exchange Gifts. Christmas Decors. Christmas tree and lanterns. Christmas TV Ads and commercials. Christmas sales. Christmas bonus. If you try to observe what’s happening now, profiting, selling and spending has become the prime pursuit in this Christmas season. Even the nativity decorations has now been replaced with giant christmas trees, reindeer and Santa Clauses. In one of the evening news in NBN, a customer at a grocery store commented that it won’t be Christmas if there is no Ham. I was surprised that many people would still stretch their budget despite a slight price increase in most of potential food products this Christmas. It somehow proves after all that many are not affected with the economic decline. Although there was an announced bonus for government employees, not everyone will be getting. I am a government employee and I’ve only been hearing it for three years. It isn’t true for me. Anyway, for many, Christmastime becomes meaningful if you possess and enjoy these things. Disappointingly, it isn’t what Christmas is all about.
Sadly, as December days start, I failed to see the tradition I grew up with. The true essence of this season has been corrupted with commercialism and consumerism. It has taken away the consciousness from the hearts of every people the real reason, ways and motivation to celebrate Christmas.
During my adolescent years, Christmas was the most awaited season. It was the time when our cousins from manila visit us in the province and It has always satisfied my couple of weeks vacation from school. Although most of the times, they become the family’s favorites and would get everyone’s attention. Of course, not only because they were more good-looking and taller, but they were missed. During those times, we’d stay most of the times together in one of our uncle’s houses. Every night, our uncles and aunts would ask us to hang our socks. I have actually believed that Santa Claus existed. They would tell us to be good and obey at all times and we were all unaware that they were taking advantage of us. We would scratch someone’s sole, pull some white hairs, do errands and we were almost perfect. When evening comes, we were all excited to sleep. Though I have always tried to wait for santa claus and pretend to be sleeping, I always fail and would wake up late. When morning comes, my cousins would find bigger coins and chocolates in their socks and I get candies and smaller coins. Often times, I’d find rocks or old eveready batteries of different sizes and colors. I wasn’t mad but I have suspected one of my uncles to be the unfair pretending santa claus. I haven’t believed in Sta. Claus since then. Nevertheless, It my happiest time of the year.
During those years, Christmas was simpler, more practical and people were more sensible of its true heart. Carolers were better singers and would not distribute envelopes nor frankly ask for money. Gifts were cheaper but more valued. Giving has more deeper motivation unlike today when giving has become an obligation and demanded. The cause of happiness was when you’re with your friends and cousins at the public park and stroll while listening to each other’s stories. Christmas “parol” or star lanterns wasn’t sold but were made by kids with their father. There weren’t too much Christmas lights or decorations sold in the market that mostly ends in the trash. Food prepared were mostly homemade and healthier, and Christmas cards too were homemade. I don’t remember an increase in burglary when Christmas season comes. It was peaceful. Folks were friendlier. Strangers would greet a “Merry Christmas” most of the time. The river or the swimming pool was enough. The “simbang gabi” before was honestly a time for Catholics to pray and thank God for His whole year of goodness. Unlike today, it’s being taken advantage by young people to be together with their boyfriend or girlfriend, that’s why more illegitimate babies are born during August through September. It’s also being taken advantage by robbers.
But during those times, God was more remembered. It has been etched in my heart ever since when I became aware about Christmas, that it’s all about the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Every activity or tradition then was centered on remembering His incarnation. I remember the times when my mom would always remind and ask us to read the verses in the Bible about the birth of Jesus. Weekly, there would be a church fellowship that is focused on remembering and celebrating God’s goodness. I remember how the youth group would prepare a drama and have a bright star at the church’s ceiling slide from the back towards the stage. There would be a band playing Christmas songs with sensible lyrics and about how Jesus so loved the world. There were lots of events and programs that are held honoring God.
Christmas is the time to pray and thank the almighty God for sending His son. It is the time to witness and accept Jesus Christ in our hearts as the Lord and Saviour. It is the time to remember His goodness and examine our relationship with Him for the whole year past. It is the time to imitate what he has been teaching us. Its an opportunity to share our resources to the less fortunate. Buy useful gifts for them rather than give expensive things to your boss or colleague or buy needless materials for your homes or hobbies. Volunteer to charity endeavors and share our time, resources and effort in changing the community. Give love.
It is also the last time of the year to fix and settle broken relationships, release and accept forgiveness, renew our commitment and devotion with our Creator and ask His grace to strengthen us so that we may remain hopeful and faithful to Him throughout the coming years.
Christmas should be more about Him- Jesus Christ, and less about us. Besides, it is because of Him that we have this season.
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