Christmas is my favorite season. I remember as a child, I would start making a list of things I would ask from Santa as early as September. My parents made a career out of making me and my siblings believe that if we were good that year, we would receive all we wanted on Christmas Day. My father would take us out on the night of the 24th of December and as we returned home just before noche buena, there would be gifts waiting to be opened underneath our Christmas tree. All of us were excited! By 10:00pm, another round of eating would commence (Filipinos loovvve to eat). After which, the wait would begin. No one would dare go to sleep in excitement of the event that was to come. When the clock finally struck twelve, everyone would shout “Merry Christmas”, hugs and kisses were all over the place and my siblings and I would dive through the sea of presents beneath the tree.
My childhood was filled with fond memories of Christmas. I loved the Pasko songs that flooded the airwaves. The colorful lights adorning the Christmas tree and its trimmings. Shopping galore, gift wrapping, parties, exchanging of gifts and of course, the sumptuous food — all these characterized my Christmas. The season permeated sparkles in my world. When I was a sophomore student in high school, a classmate of mine told me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. That he was just “make believe”. That he never really existed. And that there was no North Pole toy factory. Flying reindeers skimming above the roofs of houses delivering Christmas presents were all a figment of one’s imagination. I later learned that Santa was a mythical version of the legend of Saint Nicholas.
My sparkling world collapsed while my classmate snorted with disbelief at how gullible I was to believe such lie. Devastated and embarrassed to the core, I felt that part of my childhood stolen. But I tried to compose myself and pretend that I could handle the truth. After all, I was already in my teens then — a time when zits and PMS were the more pressing issues. However, that incident made me lose that magical sparkling feeling for Christmas. Santa Claus was gone. I felt sorry for my younger siblings who at that time were still in Christmas wonderland of gifts and toys, the North Pole, and Santa. I decided that I was not to be the bearer of this reality. “They will eventually find out” I thought to myself. Though I hoped not yet, not now.
Even though my parents continued to play the Santa game with us, I chose to appreciate their efforts to make us joyous through this season of giving, realizing that they meant well. After all, children do like fairy tales and make believe characters. Innocence and purity are their two traits that make them easier to please. At one time, my younger sister and I each got a dress from “Santa” that we liked so much; and when we tried it on, we couldn’t believe that it was exactly our size. Too bad Santa got all the credit for the gifts he gave us. I’m glad that nothing happened to my Dad with all the stunts he pulled to make our gifts appear as if it had fallen through the roof.
As I grew older, the enthusiasm and excitement I once had during the -ber months slowly dwindled to just another season of spending, stress, and traffic. Loneliness would even creep in, even when “tis the season to be jolly”. Oftentimes, I would find myself wishing to be a kid all over again. Wishing that I was in another place at another time. Wishing that I were with people whose faces I grew accustomed to. Wishing that I could bring back the hands of time. Wishing……. Maybe this is what it’s like to grow older I thought to myself. No longer was I a child with shallow happiness. I grew critical and became cold hearted at the complexity of adult life.
What is the reason for the season anyway? I had all the wrong reasons as a child. As a child, it meant receiving countless presents, making other children happy, no school, not being naughty but nice, and more days of no school. As an adult, I was unable to find an acceptable one. I recall from my Christian Living subject in grade school that a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was born in a manger on Christmas day. His name was Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. His birth is also celebrated through a song titled “Joy to The World” with lyrics “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove. The glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders, of His love.” According to this Yuletide carol, Jesus is the joy of the world. The phrase “the wonders of His love” was repeatedly sung. God’s love is wonderful, now that was attractive to me!
In one of my seeking and “aha” moments, I realized that Christmas was truly all about Jesus. The one they call the Christ. Because without Him, Christmas isn’t Christmas at all. There will be no joy, no Savior of the world. As the years passed, a rekindled Christmas spirit grew inside me. I felt an unshakable and intangible joy. I perfectly understood what happened that day more than 2000 years ago at Calvary that brought good news to all because of God’s love for mankind. This became the source of the Christmas spirit that dwelt in me.
Since then, every Christmas became meaningful. No longer did shallow happiness fill my emptiness. No longer was my spirit critical or cynical. All because I was reminded that I already have the greatest gift of all — that is, God’s love in Jesus. It is the only ONE I wanted and needed all through these years; anything else doesn’t matter that much. Fussing over trimmings, blinking lights, gifts, shopping galore, parties and food took the back seat. While these are all wonderful, I can now get by without these Christmasy things and happenings. There will always be joy in my heart because of the “Joy of the World,” and that’s enough and all that I want.
After all, Christ the Risen King is the real reason for the season.