The homily of the first Novena Mass at the Church of the Gesu posed us with a question and a challenge: What is your foundational story of Christmas? And the challenge was to share it.
To answer that question, I would first like to backtrack. My family does not have a Christmas or New Year tradition passed down to me and my brother. Some years we would stay up until midnight, some years we’d go to bed on our regular bedtime. The only constant activity of most of the last decade was opening gifts given to my father who held a position at his office. This year, that has been absent because of the pandemic.
I remember when I was younger there was an awkward tension at home because we weren’t sure if we will be attending Christmas mass. My father is a protestant who converted to Catholic, while my mother, although spiritual and prayerful, doesn’t observe religious practices. The happy Christmases I remember were that of my younger years back in the province. The homes of our grandparents, relatives, and our own would cook Christmas food and we would hop around each other’s house eating and exchanging gifts. On one or two occasions, we spent Christmas sipping wine with my Ninang Nenet and Ninong Noel who lived 3-minutes away.
In the last couple of years, December was filled with a ton of work because my boss had back to back Christmas parties and weddings to DJ which started as early as October. There was also the business of Christmas gift-giving both at work and at home. Things were hectic. Life was noisy.
But this year, with the absence of Christmas parties, and work, and being left alone this very hour as I type this, I come to see and feel the Christmas spirit which we’ve been missing for a long time.
This December is unique in that my father isn’t busy attending company Christmas parties, he’s also taking time off from work due to his retirement, but will be returning on January. On top of that, my mother has been sick for the better part of this quarter leading up to Christmas day. She has had a combination of gastrointestinal and UTI problems on top of having tendinitis on her left arm and L5 vertebrae misalignment. She’s been experiencing a lot of pain and it’s been painful to see that.
Today mama awaits confinement because her symptoms continues to recur and she’s experienced no improvement. We’ve seen probably six doctors since November, different kinds. I said good night to her last evening after she took Tramadol to ease the pain in her stomach. It was after watching the Misa de Gallo at the Church of the Gesu. We went to bed hoping that Tramadol would solve the problem. We woke up with her having slept only around four hours due to the pain. This lack of sleep has been happening for more than a week now. Following breakfast she said she wanted to get admitted because her stomach was again in pain. She threw up Christmas breakfast, my parents packed their luggage, and left home for the hospital.
I write part 2 as I publish this.