March 3, 2024

In our country, the cold days set in during September. It is also during this month that the countdown leading towards Christmas is kept track of. Day after day, public forums inform the people that “there are specific number of days before Christmas” until swiftly, it becomes October, November, then December. The joviality and festiveness of the season is just around the corner. For all intents and purposes, the Christmas season indeed starts in September.
As soon as October arrives, the decorations start to appear. Households adorn their walls or rooftops with colorful lights, mangers and Christmas trees. Radios flood their airwaves with well-known carols. Every listener starts humming to the tune of the song popularized by Jose Marie Chan: “Let’s sing Merry Christmas and a happy holiday, this season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus…and may the spirit of Christmas be always in our hearts.”
November is the time when we start to shop for gifts to avoid the Christmas rush. But even then, the excitement of Christmas is all over the place that other celebrations like All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are conveniently put aside. There is singing and dancing on our streets. Costume-clad pupils march in parades to welcome the advent of the season.
No sooner than the working man receives his regular and 13th month pay and his bonus, will they plan what to do on Christmas Day. Some will want to go home to their hometowns while others would rather have a short vacation somewhere else. Whatever their intentions may be, December is family time and food time. The anticipation reaches its climax that truly, Christmas is here. The celebration starts. There is party everywhere. There is abundance of food and wine. Party-goers start to add on to their weight. Unmindful that their cholesterol and sugar intake are increasing to alarming levels, they continue to eat. “What the heck,” they’d reason, “it’s Christmas and it happens only once a year.” Oh yeah?
This is the normal tradition by which we expect how Christmas is going to be. Will it be the same with what is happening? Will the Covid-19 pandemic alter the best time of the year by dulling the start of the Christmas season?
More than the gifts that we receive, the reunions that we celebrate and the parties we go to, there is the spiritual aspect behind every Christmas. If we let the long-drawn pandemic affect our moods, Christmas as we know it, will not be the same this year. But, if we look into the real meaning of Christmas, we shall remain hopeful of the joy and expectation that the season brings. As encapsulated in the song “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” … “at mag buhat ngayon, kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan.”
In fact, due to the crisis that is besetting the world, it becomes doubly necessary to expect the best Christmas season. For, the essence of Christmas is giving and sharing. What better time to give and share, when plenty of our countrymen have lost their jobs, when many frontline workers have lost their lives, when most of us look upon the future with bleak prospect.
Yes, we still dream of a “white Christmas” despite everything. As long as we hearken to the truth that we must “give love on Christmas day,” no coronavirus, no pandemic, or contagion will dampen the desire to what is expected that the start of the Christmas season is the “most wonderful time of the year.”