Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A grown-up's Christmas

published 20 December 20015
Christmas is supposed to occasion warm, fuzzy feelings. It is that time of the year we look forward to the most. It is when we get to have reunions with friends and family members we have not seen in a while. It gives us a legitimate excuse to shop for clothes, shoes and presents, and yes, indulge in some good food. Or a lot. 
After all, for Christians, this is the time when the savior is born —and that calls for some big celebration. 
But in these days leading to December 25, there has been no glimpse of heaven, indeed only a peek into the murky side of human nature. Jeers, instead of Christmas cheer.
For those of us living in the metro and who still have to earn a living no matter what day in December it is, the past few days have been a test of patience. It is the traffic and the sorry state of public transportation, but it’s many other things aside from these, too. 
Case in point: On Tuesday night, Typhoon “Nona” brought rains to the metro for hours on end. The result was almost textbook. There was flooding, there was mayhem on the street, and some of the orange plastic barriers brought in for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last month were seen floating on the floodwater. People were soaked and stranded, cursing their lot and thinking about how they had to get up in the morning to do the same thing all over again.
On Waze, major highways were tinged in deep, angry red even until after midnight. Then again, even if there were no Nona, there would have been the holiday rush, anyway. And even if there were no holiday rush, there would have been the high volume of vehicles plying the same roads. One can never run out of excuses.
Taxi drivers were in their element, very much aware of how high the demand for them was. I am sure there are many honorable drivers out there, but why do only the arrogant and the choosy cross our paths during this season? 
Forget, too, our usual recourse when these cabbies fail us: Grab and Uber rates were several times over what they would normally charge. Imagine, on Tuesday night, a GrabCar (sedan) ride from Makati to Quezon City was priced at more than P1,000. Only an opportunist would take advantage of the situation. Only the desperate would pay that insane amount.
But many were desperate. 
The list of expenses is also mind-boggling and stress-inducing. One has to spend on so many things, but are these merely wants masquerading as needs?
***
These events, among others, threaten to take away the so-called Christmas spirit.  We are supposed to feel like a bundle of happiness, willing to share whatever we have. Instead, we keep thinking about what we are not getting, who failed us, where we are supposed to go but can’t. We resent those who we think should be doing their jobs but aren’t. 
How can we bring back that magical Christmas feeling we used to have as children? How come we are now saying we can’t wait for December to be over so we can get back on to our regular lives? 
The answer would vary with each person. For some, Christmas evokes wonderful memories of one’s childhood such that they do everything to recreate it with the families they are now building. Some may have felt deprived so that they now want to give a better version of the holidays to themselves and to their families. 
Some who could not understand the frivolity sit back and watch all others go crazy with merriment. They judge them and brand them shallow. 
And then there are some, like perhaps you and me, who keep trying to find joy and meaning in the littlest—and unlikeliest—of things. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we tell ourselves to try even harder. 
Merry Christmas, dear readers!
adellechua@gmail.com

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