December 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
Christmas holds no single meaning even among those who consider themselves Christians. While the Church’s officialdom has tried to emphasize the redemptive promise of Christ’s birth, big business prefers to squeeze the commercial potential of the season by stressing the joy that comes from gift-giving (and gift-buying, of course).
So the images of the gift-bearing Three Kings is a must in Christmas tableaus. But nothing beats the image of the gift-giving Santa Claus as a stepping stone to the commercialization of the season. This commercial drive is the principal cause why Christmas season is celebrated the longest here in the Philippines. The psychological build-up takes the entire “ber” months to make us part with our hard-earned pesos in a frenzy of buying and celebrations.
But pity those who do not have the hard-earned pesos to spare. Hundreds of thousands of our countrymen, if not millions, are jobless but are similarly exposed to those commercial and Christmas jingles daily pounding them to go buy something or else the season is not complete for you.
For those in power or those aspiring to acquire power, the theme closest to their hearts is the message of peace, the absence of conflict during the Christmas season, and so we have all kinds of truces of varying durations and quality. Of course, this kind of peace is not expected to last long because the source of conflict remains unsettled. But for a fleeting moment the harsh images of war are set aside in favor of the peaceful image of the Child Jesus in the manger.
We have no quarrel with that except that we would have preferred a more permanent and lasting peace and not just the seasonal type that leaves us wondering what is keeping our country from enjoying the bounties of uninterrupted peace, justice and prosperity.
For us Filipinos, Christmas celebrations will not be complete without some measure of family reunions, a coming together of loved ones where everyone is in a celebratory mood. This is especially true for extended families, after the children have already left their parents’ house to establish their own and can come together only during life cycle events which are getting more and more infrequent. Christmas provides a good reason to come together again.
The Christmas season has also a distinct flavor for Filipinos as a result of its colonial past. This is one country where its citizens keep “dreaming of a white Christmas” and sings about “dashing through the snow” when for all we know we are in a tropical country and snowy Christmases are part and parcels of our colonizers lives, but not our own.
Christmas has also its distinct meanings across generations. The younger ones look forward to Christmas with the freshness of innocence where undiluted joy flows forth from simpler aspirations like a new pair of shoes or a couple of inexpensive toys and some special meals or outings with family members plus all the carollings and bright lights that go with the season.
The older ones are, of course, now jaded having lost much of the innocence of youth. But Christmas still bring the joyful memories of younger years now gone-by, their greatest happines now derived from bringing joy to the younger ones and less from getting something material for oneself.
In the end, this is perhaps what Christmas is all about: a sense of joy and expectation from the promise of redemption from the Child in the Manger, the flury of shopping and gift-giving, the season’s decors and carols, a brief respite from war and conflict, the coming together of loved ones in family or clan reunions, the happiness of beholding joy in the face of the innocents even as one remembers the joys of Christmases past.
This is the meaning of Christmas. A happy combination of material and spiritual blessings that makes human existence more meaningful and joyful.
Merry Christmas to all! And a Prosperous New Year to everyone!