Having someone get sick during the holidays in not new to our family. Rushing to the hospital and getting admitted to the ER isn’t new either. We even have a protocol, a ready luggage and a short list of items to bring along. But this Christmas, this holiday, it felt the most different.
In the absence of events and work to attend, I felt more deeply the presence of family—my father, mother and I—for each other. I noticed myself being more present for my parents, rarely do I get irritated as I used to—perhaps this has also been a result of my spiritual journey afforded by the pandemic. Doing chores felt grace-filled as it allowed me to express love thru acts of service. My father has also been especially sweet. Both he and I would massage mom’s arm when she ached for pain. My father would serve as our driver in the past few weeks, bringing me and my mom to our lab tests and doctors’ appointments. I observed that we were more patient and loving towards each other, both thru words and actions.
I watched my father embrace and kiss my mother’s head before they left the house. He assured her everything is going to be okay and she need not apologize for being sick this Christmas day. There really is nothing to be sorry for. Most of the time it is our mothers who take care of us, who put us first so that we may pursue our work and passions. And now that she is the one who is ailing, how else could we respond than with the same love she has shown us.
This holiday season and Christmas day has been full of grace. In the absence of the many gifts, overflowing food, and usual merriment, we are left with the space, perhaps even the emptiness that invites the presence and love of those we have been neglecting to once again become front and center.
Carlo, a dear friend, who is also a priest said, “Ang Diyos hindi tumitigil sa pagpaparamdam sa atin kung gaano kalalim itong ipinagdiriwang natin. It’s a matter of us being open, being aware doon sa mga bagay na ‘yon na nagbibigay kahulugan. Madalas nga lang hindi tayo nakatingin. Pero once naman makita natin, it will always hit you in a very deep, profound, and personal level.” At ang kanyang pahabol, “Sana taon, taon yun ang makita natin—isang napakalaking biyaya.”
My friends, this is my Christmas foundational story: It is when I’ve come to recognize Christ’s presence in our situation and in the people I am with. It is when we acknowledge how important our relationships are in our life, and we give thanks to them. It is when we say “I love you” with the gravity of our being. It is when we express our love, touching our beloved and those around us with our sweetness, an overflow of the grace and gratitude we have in recognizing we are blessed.
And so I would like to end this with a huge thanks and I love you to the people who has made this year meaningful, Isay, my BFF and constant; Carlo, who’s presence has been so transformative and loving, he has taught and inspired me so much in the few months we’ve known each other; Kikko, Aldy, Barwin, & Nez, who are my loves; Alex and Keith, who I usually get to see in zoom meetings, my beloved blockmates; JJ, because our light banters have been fun and therapeutic; and Joey, my boss, who is not only my mentor, but has always been so generous and understanding with my working conditions. Know that I speak fondly of all of you to my friends and family. Know that my parents know how important you are in my life and how grateful I am for your presence. Know that you are seen, you are acknowledged, and that my life is so much more sweeter and meaningful with you in it!
I wish you all a very happy and grace-filled Christmas! Nawa’y matagpuan n’yo ang biyaya ng pagdiriwang na ito taon-taon!