Tradition and Caution



My sister paid a visit to the municipal hall supposedly to secure a copy of a letter of acceptance for my brothers who would be coming home for the holidays. She gave a rundown of the details of the quarters which would serve as home quarantine facility for the bro’s.


The municipal employee then asks,

“Why do they have to go home anyway?”.

To this, my sister replied,

“It’s Christmas, isn’t it?”.


(Of course, I translated those from the vernacular and I hope I captured the emotions embedded in each statement.) I guess this sums up the tear between tradition and caution and caution in the worldwide celebration of Christmas 2020; and of course, this would extend to New Year 2021.


He was talking about my family while my sister was relaying this to me over the dinner table, but you may be surprised that I understand why that local government official said that and why he said so. This man, for the past months, may have been looking at the fluctuating stats of Covid-19 cases in his municipality and the province of Camarines sur. This official may be one among the ranks that work hard to prevent the propagation of the pandemic. This official may be justifiably wary of the potential dangers of inward human mobility that may cause heightened viral activity. Perhaps, if he would have his way, each person would stay put in his own place where he/she is at the moment, so that the virus, if ever any of them carry it, would similarly stay put with them.


Along the same line, authorities have discouraged Christmas parties, carolling, outreach programs, close proximity Christmas shopping and all other mass gatherings of the season. I heard that there would be restrictions on simbang gabi. They might as well have barred Christmas altogether. Well, not really. There are no and would not be any restrictions against any form of Christmas decorations, and playing of carols, just as long that the songs do not come from a group of people going house to house. We can still shop, just as long as we keep our decent distance. Of course, we can still have the traditional noche Buena with those stuff we shopped. It’s still going to be Christmas; well, whatever the season is to you.


For the official or any regular person who would want to see the pandemic end or at least go downhill, it would be very helpful if people restrain from some traditions and keep themselves apart from each other and keep themselves from moving about. Hopefully, just once for this year, maybe we could pull ourselves from partying and caroling.


But on the other hand, who is to go against tradition? Who is to stand against family? The world may wither away, but Christmas is and will always be Christmas. Virus may swallow up all that is virtuous, but family has to be together in the most important time of the year. We may be sticking too close to each other picking products on those racks and queuing up on the cashier lines, but we have to get what we have to get for the family. People will find whatever way, would squeeze themselves through seams and cracks to hold those traditional Christmas parties. No doctor, no government official, and I suppose not even virus would keep many people from gathering inside a room to have whatever sort of party which would involve all that is deplorable to the commandment of social and physical distancing. I guess, carolling violations would be much too obvious. But if cooperative hosts let carollers of a discreet number inside the living room, there won’t be any issue. The festivities will find its way to fruition.


When the regular citizen longing for family togetherness tells the powers that be that it is Christmas, that is a strong stand before any restriction, any apprehension and any infection. It is a stand that declares that life will go on despite pandemia and paranoia. People will come together. People will find ways to pass through or get around the roadblocks. Do they want a test? They’ll pass the test. Do they want a letter? They’ll get the letter. Do they want quarantine? Yes, they’ll do time in quarantine.

Now, if we could only bring that stand against the strength of the virus.


“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15