How I See Christmas Then versus How I See Christmas Now

Monday, December 22, 2014

The passage of time is often subtle that when it manifests, we are caught off guard. We don't instantly realize the transformations that occurred, the changes that took place, within and without. Until such time that we are busy doing something else, we suddenly find ourselves thinking: Wow, things are so different now.

I have been out earlier, doing a sort of last-minute Christmas shopping. As I elbow my way to stall after stall, I couldn't help mulling over the fact that I was now shopping for gifts, for others. I felt mature, all of a sudden.
"Whoa! I have several inaanak now!"
Without wanting to, I started mentally compiling the specific things about Christmas that are somewhat different to me now. For one thing, this is the first Christmas I'll be having after my mom passed away. I know, I know. Way to kill the festive spirits. But while I am sad, I still think there are many things to be happy about. 

In any event, here are some of the things that had changed about how I see Christmas.

How I See Christmas Then versus How I See Christmas Now

THEN: Carolers after Carolers
When I was younger, I was a hardcore caroler. It wasn't even December yet when I started collecting tanzans for my improvised tambourine. I even had a tiny bag of first-aid supplies meant especially for when I go out caroling, as if I was going on a dangerous mission. Of course, it was dangerous, to some extent. There were your obnoxious rival carolers and the occasional vicious stray dogs. And we all know how dangerous those are. But I digress. Even up to my college days, I went with my friends to go caroling. And we do it not for any noble purpose. We just do it for the sake of doing it. Because it was so much fun.

NOW: What happened to the Carolers?
I'd like to think I'm still a hardcore caroler. And I probably still am. I'd grab my guitar and go house to house if asked. But, you see, I wanted to be on the other side - the one being sang to. I wanted to make kids (and even adults) feel the joy I had the pleasure of feeling upon being handed our prize for putting on a decent mobile micro-concert. Sadly, up until now (it's December 22 now), no carolers have shown up in our house. It may be that children today are so busy with their assortment of gadgets they do not have the time for this sort of thing. That's just sad because I'm quite eager to give out some money just to listen to some good ol' carolers. I saw some carolers last night (December 21), but they weren't even trying! No musical instruments and it felt like their hearts weren't into it.
Great kids. I wonder where they've gone to.
THEN: Christmas Trees and Lights and Parol were a huge deal at my house
Now, our house is not that big. But my mom saw to it that we had awesome Christmas decor. I still can't get the classic medley of Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Hark the Herald - in this particular order - playing in sync with those old-school not-environmentally-friendly Christmas lights, out of my head. I remember our capiz parol and our fuzzy Christmas tree. It wasn't grand but I thought it was awesome.

NOW: I didn't even bother
This year, come to our house and you'll see no signs of Christmas. It's because (a) I don't know where the decors are kept, and (b) even if I did know where they are kept, I'm too lazy to clean the house and put them up. I figured having Christmas in our hearts was enough.
This is a bit of an overkill, I think.
THEN: Nom nom nom
We all know what happens during the Holidays. That's right - lots and lots of food! Parties and merrymaking everywhere. It's a great excuse to gorge down heaps of Fruit Salad and Ham (not necessarily in that pairing). I didn't worry about having a gut or a muffin top back then. I just worried about what to tell my mom when she finds out the whole tub of fruit salad is gone.

NOW: There goes my diet
Although I have a relatively fast metabolism, I still dread the sight of so many food. Why? Well, because I will most likely eat them all. And, before I know it, I have a bellyache and a faint throbbing in my temples. After which, I will worry about how to get back in shape for summer. Damn you, ham and fruit salad.
So many food, so close to summer.
THEN: I think long and hard about what to ask my parents for Christmas
We weren't rich, but my mom really made sure to get us cool Christmas presents. And when my mom asked me what I wanted, I'm usually prepared with an answer. Things were simple then and I was a simple kid. Books, a brick game, a pair of sneakers with wheels (you know what I'm talking about), a cool pencil case (the ones with the drawers and compartments), and a 64-piece Crayola crayons were some of the things I'd asked and had gotten.

NOW: I think long and hard about what to get my inaanak
As I grow older, I feel a certain embarrassment when receiving gifts. I mean, I like receiving gifts as much as the next one, but I do feel I sort of don't deserve them, for some reason. (It's different when I actually ask for them, like my beautiful new bicycle. I so deserved that.) And I think it's true that it's better to give than to receive. I mean, I am now whole enough that I find it easier to share what I have. And I don't have much. My job's virtually unstable, but I don't really care about money anymore. I just want to make others happy.
The greatest gift is love.
THEN: Admiration for people who wake up before dawn for Simbang Gabi
I was never really a morning person. If I can sleep until noon, I will. I'd probably sleep the whole day too, if need be. So, back when my mom was still insistent on bringing all of us to church for simbang gabi, I get really really grumpy. I did think, however, that people who were so dedicated to complete the Nine were great people.

NOW: Admiration for people who wake up before dawn for Simbang Gabi
While I no longer go to church, nothing had changed about this aspect. I still admire people who participate in this tradition. Hats off!
I wish every single one of these people's wishes come true.
THEN: Awe at nicely wrapped presents
Before, every time I received or saw presents that were wrapped nicely, I felt a sense of awe and even admiration. I thought the giver must've really cared so much, even the exterior was well taken care of.

NOW: Grudging respect for nicely wrapped presents
If you wrap presents as awful as I do, you'll feel the same way.
How I basically wrap my presents
THEN: I absolutely got to have new clothes for Christmas
I was forgiving when it comes to presents. It was a different matter when it comes to clothes. It might have been peer pressure, but I admittedly made a whole fuss about getting two sets of new clothes. One for the school Christmas party, and one for Christmas Day.

NOW: I realize how naive I was for associating new clothes with Christmas
This time of year, I can't help but giggle every time I see a cluster of teens in stylish clothes strutting along SM Angono or any malls, for that matter. A day ago, Dennis and I were cruising along the streets of Angono when I told him, "Galing sa Christmas Party yan," pointing to a group of girls in almost matching outfits. It was so obvious, because I was like that before. Now, I don't care much about clothes. I do like dressing up - I'm a girl. "Pangbata lang yun eh," replied Dennis, when I jokingly asked him if he already had his pampasko outfit. I hope we're not alone in thinking that, as we became more mature, we became more aware that Christmas is more than just fancy clothes and shiny shoes.
Merry Christmas, b*tches!
Many things have changed. Yes, that's true. But you see, regardless of your religious orientation (or lack thereof), the spirit of Christmas is universal: set aside differences, forgive and forget, make others happy, and spread kindness and love.

How about you? Has something changed about your perception of Christmas? Let me know in the comments section below.

Happy holidays!

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