This is how my Christmas season ends: I am sat on my desk, watching the blue of the sky push down the almond color until the heavens are devoured by the dusk. It wasn’t so bad. Last year, we spent our morning mass in a small shack covered with plastic Parols the congregation so lovingly made. There were bougainvillea petals on the altar. This year, my father stood on a pulpit of a centenarian church, not as big as Atlag, but not as small as Northville 9. He wore a coat. The weather has turned beautifully chill recently. I, wrapped in my long cardigan, had only one thing new to wear today: my earrings. It wasn’t even expensive. Expensive was something I could not afford these days.

But I have given gifts to my utmost preparation; most of them were handmade or Filipino-made, and I was proud to give, because being in this position gave me so much joy. One time, I wished I could give manong jeepney driver a whole hundred for our fare as a Christmas gift, but we won’t have anything to pay for our tricycle, so I held on to a fifty. I think a couple of tens may have made a difference. He drank Royal on the twenty-minute afternoon ride. I wondered if he ate lunch.

Last night, we gathered at our Aunt’s place, a few blocks from our house. Me and my brother walked in the dark, carrying two bags of gifts. Our parents were back at church. Things are different now, but we’re grown people. And grown people do grown-up things. Which is going to our relatives’ traditional Noche Buena party, listen to stories, and have a grand time eating. We did. Coby arrived an hour or so later, that’s because we all forgot to message Florelyn; I’m so, so embarrassed but I’m so glad she graciously came and mingled with us. I hope she and little Flynn had a lovely time. Oops. Jacob Flynn isn’t so little anymore.

Today, on Christmas day, we took a swift drive to Hagonoy to get to the 5 AM service. When we got home a couple of hours, two thousand pesos richer and a few bag-of-dirty-clothes fuller, we ate, then we slept. What glorious day. We spent the morning sleeping, the afternoon sleeping, and now, my dad is watching basketball. The day is worth lazying around. No more little jaunts to relatives’ houses and (be forced to) make mano to unfamiliar faces. No more singing so they’d give you five pesos (which, back in my days, was worth a handful of candies). Times have changed now, since we could all tweet and Facebook, but I hope we’d still retain some of our genuine tenderness in personal, physical encounters. Nothing beats that.

I had a grand Christmas season, but I know not all of us do; down there, in the south, a lot of people are still recovering from the effects of the fire and flood that happened this weekend. If we widen our telescope, there’s probably a lot of heartbreaking events happening all over the world.

Not being a wet-blanket, but when as you clink those wine glasses and relish good food on the table, it’s nice to think about them, pray for them, and pray for ourselves, that we all become channels of blessing, that other than thinking and standing by and watching the world move around, may we learn to take action, perhaps in little ways, to transform their lives too.

Merry Christmas, loves! ✨🎄✨