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How Do You Spend Christmas?

Is it this weekend already? I’ve been too caught up with things to do. I didn’t realize that it will be a few days from now. We have to buy groceries. How much do we need for that? What are we cooking anyway? Let’s have something other than spaghetti and fried chicken. Not that they don’t taste good. Let’s just try something different. Maybe, let’s have some Japanese or Mexican for noche Buena.

I heard a media personality lament the noticeable less amount of lights across town. I don’t really know where he lives. Maybe, that case is true only on his side of town. But then, he continues on complaining that we should not neglect putting on the lights because it’s a happy tradition. It’s like he was complaining that Christmas is becoming less vibrant because of people who are less enthusiastic on putting on ornaments, lanterns and lights on their external walls, doors and fences.

I guess or to some extent, I could agree that those ornaments, especially the lights are indeed a spectacular sight to behold, carols and songs in the form of scenery, celebration and carnival in colors. But, if residents or office managements decide not to put up some lanterns or decors this year, that’s their call. There’s probably a good reason why they’re not decorating their places. Maybe, the old decors that they had been using from years before have all been tattered and torn to be acceptably amusing. Maybe, the family or office had no allotted budget to buy new ornaments. Maybe they decided to spend the money that they would have spent on lanterns on more important expenditures like food or other essentials. Maybe, putting up decors would be simply too expensive. Maybe, not putting on Christmas lights is a precautionary measure from some possible accident; fire perhaps. So, underneath it all, if functionality and practicality has become the priority over fun, there shouldn’t be any problem with that. I actually see that as a social and cultural advancement. Maybe that’s a sign that we’re advancing from looking at luxury over what is necessary, from loaning money to throw a party for the fiesta, from spending on the latest smart phone over medical insurance. Maybe, that’s a good step forward.

My sister was showing me this Vlog of some local celebrities showing this whole setup of Christmas decoration that they installed on their home garden. They even hired an electrician who in turn hired his own staff of utility workers. At least, they put premium on safety. The whole display cost a whopping one hundred thousand pesos. That’s a whole ton of mullah that shot brain freeze up my nose that just made me nauseous. I couldn’t believe someone could spend thousands on decors. (But, we didn’t know how that annual decoration on a certain residence on Magsaysay cost.) Well, the owners of the house are happy. I guess, that’s good. After all, that’s his call. It’s private property. It’s his money.

But all that money could have been used to feed a whole barangay of underprivileged children or a whole community of poverty stricken, calamity ravaged families. I heard from a pastor that it has become difficult nowadays to find donors or seek donations for Christmas gift-giving or food distribution activities. Well, maybe, the usual donors may have decided to be more frugal with their resources. Maybe, business is really slow these days. But, on the other hand, I am quite a bit taken aback with how grade school classes celebrate their classroom Christmas parties, with food contribution from 200 to more than 300, and exchange gift from more than 100 to more than 200. In our time, 100 for either would have been enough. But, of course, that was decades ago. So much has happened to the economy. It’s quite surprising how easily parents are willingly able to shell out the cash when other parents would run to the radio stations for some questionable school fund raising in the form of raffle tickets. But, on the other hand, it is nice that they would give more for the children’s fun and enjoyment.

Before I even went to Kindergarten, my fondest memory of Christmas in the community was when our next door neighbor threw a party for the neighborhood children. The fact that I could still remember parts of how fun and happy the event was attest to its positive influence. I still remember the ice cream, the paper dance game, that the bigger kids were also there, how everyone was happy. I would look forward to it in the years after that, asking my mother when the party would be. As I grew older, I would realize that it was a one-time event that our generous neighbor did for the community children all for free.

2 Corinthians 9:7: Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 is a verse on.

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