Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan
The holidays really have us on our toes with the many earthquakes and aftershocks that we are experiencing here in Mindanao. While we desire so much to spend and be inside commercial establishments, there is always this feeling of insecurity that we wish we could brush off so that we can go on with the merrymaking that we have been looking forward to. On another note, it makes little sense to party this time when we know that there are a lot of people who are groping for the spark of Christmas amidst the tragedy of losing a loved one or their home. A friend once told me over a text message, “Mura’g dili December (It doesn’t feel like December).” I resonate with his sentiment and I know a lot of us feel this way. December should have always been a happy time.
In Davao Region, residents have been asking for support, especially water and food. Many have taken shelter under “trapal” because gyms and concrete infrastructure facilities can’t provide safe shelter to families lest they might also crumble when the earth shakes. I can’t help but cringe each time when some residents who feel that they are safe from the shaking sing out loud with their videoke in celebration of Christmas while babies try to sleep in their makeshift houses. I can’t help but ask why does it seem so hard for us to feel for others? Does the celebration of Christmas cause us to lose empathy for our neighbors?
These times do not anymore need us to follow the old ways of thinking that we have been programmed to. These times call for us to be more attentive with the things that we do automatically because, let’s face it, it affects others in our periphery whether we like it or not. Just because we have been programmed to celebrate Christmas in a loud manner does not mean that we still do it like the way we have been used to. We ought to develop the feeling for others if we truly want to help. If our definition for this season is all about parties without thinking about the people around us and our environment, then perhaps we should think again – and deeper.
Christmas, I am so sorry to say this, is not just about spending and parties and videoke. Christmas is letting the true human in us be born by knowing ourselves and being with others (may it be in our thoughts or in physical presence) at this time. After all, this is what the Child Jesus have come here for. We must do this. Otherwise, we lose the essence of the most beautiful time of the year. The Season of Giving as we have called it has reached a different call. Namely, to give our genuine humanity a chance to manifest in this world.
With the challenges that deluge our area at this time of the year, some of us may be tempted to sink deep into sad and desperate thoughts. A good number of Dabawenyos, though, are asking what is this is telling us? Some aptly put, “Lord, what is the meaning of this?” The answer is something that each of us must contemplate. The clue that I got is that it is always with the seemingly endless dark days that we learn about our light inside and we think and feel how best to share this with others. This is way lot easier said than done. May your journey to finding the meaning of this season bring light to you, to your loved ones, and to the world.
I pray that you and your loved ones celebrate a meaningful and hope-filled Christmas.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a teacher at Tuburan Institute, Inc. She is also a wife and a mother of two. For questions and comments, feel free to drop her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Facebook page, Joan Mae Soco.
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