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Siling Labuyo: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

You have heard the song many times over as sung by Andy Williams. It’s a wonderful and lively danceable song that makes you gyrates along. Note that the “most wonderful time” part being singular may make one think that it is only referring to Christmas (day) but “time” here really refers to the holiday season. Thus, it is not just a singular day but very day starting after Thanksgiving when people start to pay attention to the holiday songs in the airwaves up to the last day you’re still feeling Christmassy just before the firecrackers lights up the sky for the New Year’s celebration. Whether you’re wearing winter earmuffs because of the cold air, or just plain enjoying shopping at some local mall, you will find time to be of good cheer from the “kids jingle belling or people giving you holiday greetings, or people caroling out in the snow.” How often do you roast chestnuts if not during the holidays? Or slicing away on the keso de bola (cheeseball) from a local oriental store? After all, it’s the happiest season of all, if not the most. From a kid’s perspective, the season is about receiving gifts from Santa and ninongs/ninangs (godparents). Getting a toy gun or a doll for Christmas most certainly will make one’s heart glow especially with loved ones near but more than that, they become part of a tradition of giving as they grow up and find themselves becoming parents someday. They learn to start saving money for all that gifts. That is par for the course. But then, why the “ghostly stories of Christmases long ago?” While this line of the song really refers to some pagan tradition during the winter solstice that reminds one of Halloween but thankfully is no longer emphasized by present tradition, the Holiday Season can be the most distressing and stressful time of the year too especially for people who are sick, lonely, or just stressing about the many gifts to buy with very little time (and money) to truly reflect on the reason for the season. If that’s you, you should listen to Andy Williams’ song to lift your spirits up. One can always conjure a happiest moment for much cheering and mistletoeing. A kiss under the mistletoe brings much joy, if you believe that sort of thing. But mistletoe or not, a kiss is always a kiss even when no one else is there to witness it but the two of you (even just the memory of it). One knee bent (guys, don’t do the bending-lol), eyes closed, and hugging tightly, the warmth that a kiss brings overcomes the toxicity of the plant hanging by the door. And if you open your eyes after the kiss, you will notice the parol (lantern) hanging by the window or on the street corner being sold by girls and boys out to bring Christmas cheer and joy. Forget about the wars or conflicts, out there or in there – let there be peace in you because these troubles could wait another day but the happiest season is here and lots of Christmas cards to write, joyful songs to sings, and to celebrate while thinking of the little guy in the manger as he sleeps – before the year ends. Think of the Misa de Gallo you used to go to and then feasting on treats like bibingka, puto bumbong, biko, kutsinta, and swallowed with hot salabat (ginger brew). A different kind of joy even if you have to make a jeepney trip to get there, I guess, but joy to the world nevertheless – the trip and the treat. Remember when you were part of a choral group going from house to house singing carols with one big joyful voice and enjoying the company of other people? Yeah, that one that raised money for the club’s youth, senior, and other programs. Think of the excitement from wearing a new green or red outfit with gold or silver designed by your club modista (dressmaker) – t’was like getting a new outfit for Christmas! Yes, wasn’t that one of the reasons why this the most wonderful time of the year? It’s true that the sun shines every day and most certainly will set at the end of the day. Such routine occurs throughout the year and becomes a normal thing and may no longer be a source of joy unless you find yourself sitting there and happen to notice those golden rays. But the moment becomes one of the most wonderful time of the year when you’re with special someone by the park bench or beach sand hugging and whispering sweet nothings like “this is more (the company) than a gift for Christmas.” And as said earlier, a kiss is still a kiss even if just focused on the two of you because you’ve blurred the rest of what’s around you. Ah, that trip back to the parents’ house somewhere in Timbuktu. Travel during the holidays could be stressful with all that hassle and bustle from airport to the next. The red eye trip gives a new meaning to silent night but the break of dawn gives hope and anticipation for what to come. Whether the joy of seeing your parents, siblings, grandkids, nephews, nieces, or other loved ones; just being there makes the experience one of the most wonderful times of the year. So yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year and so busies ourselves with everything the season can bring. Because with every prayer and every song, will led us back to the manger where Jesus Christ was born. Tadaa! The reason for the season gives us hope that the community unites when the spirit of Christmas is in everyone’s’ heart. If you’re feeling alone, let Him be the one to guide you and give you strength as the New Year starts. So buy that cheese, roast that chestnut in an open fire and sling a few marshmallows, brew that ginger salabat, wrap the gifts, put up and decorate the tree, hang the multicolored lights, hang the parol, visit or call your loved ones, enjoy the sunset or the sunrise whichever gives you more sunlight, kiss under the mistletoe, cook that pot roast, break out previous Christmas cards or make one on Facebook, give “likes” or “love” with emoji’s, bless your ninong’s or ninang’s hand for a surprise gift, put on that ear muff and let Jack Frost nip your nose, or if nothing else, visit the guy in the manger whether in your local church or a trip to Bethlehem and truly enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! “Although it’s been said many times, many ways,” Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! S

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