top of page

Where’s your Holiday Spirit?

Oh Christmas, this season which we claim to know and practice the spirit of, yet from the actual origin of which, we are far removed. But in the middle of contemplation and discussion, meeting its meaning becomes inconsequential in the pragmatism of the practical present.

How more practical in the present can you get than in the parties? Of course, all food in the name of fat and vivacious videoke are staples. Just recently, I heard one employee appeal to the superior presiding over a meeting for their workplace party to have even a modest raffle, bargaining to have even simple pitchers for prizes. I found this strangely startling. I have always held the assumption that people buy raffle tickets, wait for the calling of winners throughout the whole sequence of picking of stubs and that whole process of that exercise of chance to acquire that grand prize. However, if participants are willing to engage in it even with simple substances, then the grand prize is not really so much the object of the game. In anticipation of every chance that a number gets called, the whole thrill is not so much to get something, but the whole excitement of defying odds of probability; akin to the higher precedence for the journey over the destination. (Although, it would certainly be far more rewarding to win that smart TV.) It does not matter what one gets for a prize, the satisfaction is in the expectation of probable acquisition, somewhat like hunting or fishing.

It took me a while to notice that neighborhood kids have not gone by our doorway to perform uncoordinated and slightly out of tune versions of ABS-CBN Christmas station themes and other carols, with improvised tambourines and plastic containers for percussion. I’m not sure if that happens just around our zone, but I heard of a similar occurrence from someone who lives in another barangay. They say that the barangay government has banned the practice (although I’m not sure of this), but I wonder, if it ever were so, could anyone really keep the kids from carrying on tradition and going out into the streets at night for some coins in exchange for some carols? Or is the tradition trailing out of trend? I personally would not mind. Children are potentially vulnerable when walking outside on the streets at night, without adult supervision. It is also troubling how caroling has become to them, a mere rambling or yelling of misheard song lyrics; with little care for melody and management. (And why do they have accepted ABS-CBN station themes as Christmas carols?)

Towards the adult end of the spectrum, permit from the local social welfare and development office needs to be secured; a process which requires documents of sample solicitation letters and endorsements. A week ago, I assisted an informal group of carolers applying for permit and I myself got lost in confusion with the requirements. I would suppose the stricter regulations are intended for security purposes for residences and (I would like to believe) even for carolers. (Although, I have to warn carolers who plan to sing Christmas songs outside our house that our dog just gave birth to a couple of puppies and considers any person as a potential threat. Poor laundry lady was the latest casualty.)

I also see a recent development. (Then again, I’m not sure if this started in the past years or just this year.) On that evening nine days before Christmas, masses were held in churches and chapels as the traditional “Simbang gabi”. Are not these traditionally held on early mornings in which part of the excitement are waking and getting up very early and meeting up with your date in church and the puto bumbong snack after the mass? But it seems major parishes and neighborhood chapels have decided to practice the “simbang gabi” literally to its actual words. San Francisco Church was jampacked when I passed by; and so was a chapel a few barangays away. Have they transferred the schedule altogether, or holding separate masses for the real “gabi” and the “parang gabi”? It is quite understandable to observe the tradition at 7 or 8 in the evening rather than before dawn for convenience. It would be definitely far more expedient to go to church before going home at night, opposite struggling with slumber and walking down dark streets and later go back to sleep and jeopardize performance at work or school. A literal Simbang “gabi”, sounds logical to me. Since, “school” was mentioned, why are there students still in school beyond December 15 which DepEd has set to be the last day of classes? Yes, I do understand that private schools have that privilege to set their own schedule, but where’s your holiday spirit?

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,” Luke 2:17

bottom of page