Saturday, December 25, 2010
A Moon River Christmas
Like most families, we usually open presents at midnight. It has always been the timeless tradition: a full-blown Noche Buena meal followed by rapid little footsteps running towards the Christmas tree, excitedly picking out the biggest and most embroidered package to open and gaping at the treasure hidden underneath. That was the norm, up until we all started growing up and money replaced fancy gift wrappers and big boxes. If we don’t get money, we get to choose our Christmas gifts in advance taking away every element of surprise on Christmas day, eliminating the thrill, suspense and the constant test of patience. The sad truth is - that as you grow older, the wait for midnight gets less exciting.
After the flood (Ondoy), we’ve stopped building Christmas trees. Mostly because all our Christmas decorations was swimming under 10 feet of mud, water and machine oil. We’ve already had two Christmases in a row with no lights, a tree or even a hint of red and gold. The sad truth is, that as you get older and things get colder, the wait for midnight gets less exciting.
Last year we started a new tradition – buffet dinner at a hotel for early Noche Buena then home bound to open little gifts. This year we didn’t wait for midnight to give our little gifts; we didn’t have a picture under the tree nor did we drink eggnog or wine. It was just family, stripped of every holiday tradition. There is less magic to tell you the truth. It’s midnight now and my parents are asleep, my sister and I are sitting side by side with our laptops on. No excitement. No Christmas spirit. The sad truth is, that as you get older, the wait for midnight gets less exciting and sometimes it doesn’t even happen at all.
Admittedly, we’re not like most families. Our eccentricities make us like oil in water. We don’t do things the same way; we don’t go through life in the same road. Families are like DNA, impossible to copy and incredibly unique. Our remarkably unique family breakthrough happened after Ondoy and has unfolded something related to growing up: letting go of the superficial.
The flood has turned us into Spartans or even Monks. It has brought about a new air of simplicity. It stripped us of every titanic element of splendor and has left us with the bare minimum – FAMILY, the basic unit of society, the bonded blood ties and the majestic memories. When everything has been taken away from you - your cars, your home and all your things, you have no choice but to go back to the basic. This has been the endearing theme of our Christmas; it’s not about bitterness or regret but about being thankful that despite tragedy, we are still a family bound by love and alive in all respects.
When we got home from the hotel, I plugged my laptop to the speakers and played Norah Jones. Relaxing jazz beats were booming through the speakers while we spent time talking at the porch. Afterwards we sat in our own nooks in the sala and listened to my rendition of Moon River. We sat in silence, our breaths a quiet assurance of everyone’s presence. At that moment the air was filled with boat loads of love flowing through the lines of invisible Christmas lights, sparking magic far more than the Christmas star.
I didn’t receive much gifts this Christmas, but that moment was worth more than 10 Mac Books combined.
In Tolkien's words, not all those who wander are lost.