Remembering what I don’t like about Christmas

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I LIKE Christmas, and I will challenge all those who will insist that Christmas is for children. That is, until you drag me into the crowd of promenading people at Christmas time and stuck me up in horrible traffic, then, I turn into a Grinch.

I realized that in my Booksale date with my inaanak Chinkay. It’s a forage in Booksale, so it must be fun. Of course it was, until we have to leave and brave the promenading mob along San Pedro Street.

In search of an ATM to replenish funds, we quickly took a right turn along Anda Street, just to escape the maddening crowd. We needed more than an hour to recuperate at a very quiet coffeeshop along Rizal Street (Café France) and suffer through its very chilly aircon before we could even venture out for dinner.

Dinner again reminded us why we spent hours inside the coffee shop. Behind us were a huge group of high school classmates now in their 50s all taking about the past in their loud voices. To our left was a group of young working age guys and a single lady, who were on their third bucket of beer at 8 p.m. to add to our suffering, our one and only order of salad, vegetable salad with a piece of sliced boiled eggs and some Asian dressing took more than 30 minutes to be served. Our idea of a quick meal before calling it a night to escape the horrible mob failed to materialize. We had to wait and wait and wait amid assurance by a staff that our “order will be served soon”. Terrible. Christmas can do that to you.

That’s reason why I prefer to spend Christmas by myself or with just a few friends, far away from where the parties are. That does not mean I hate Christmas. Rather, I hate the revelry and the crowd that Christmas brings.

On a morning shopping along Oyanguren with friend Peter, the feeling of people closing in on me and strangling my last breath wasn’t there. There were people, lots of them, as only Oyanguren can gather them. Yet, there was nothing of the nausea and constriction of San Pedro.

A quick look-around and check on what was making the big difference is the realization that those shopping in Oyanguren have a clear idea where they are going and what they intend to buy. There was purpose in the strides of every individual in the crowd. It wasn’t the maddening promenading one encounters in San Pedro. There were even very few children in tow. Oyanguren is all about getting things done, and when you want to get things done, children are best left at home.

So, does that mean I hate Christmas? I still say no and that is because I insist, Christmas is not about shopping and aimless wanderings, it is about remembering and giving, which we can dof aster if we put a purpose in every stride we take.

Spare me from the meandering crowd and those who think it’s all about imbibing alcohol to beat the 1 a.m. liquor ban. I’d rather sit and appreciate the presence of my companion as me and my friends would often do. We’d talk about silly things, then tackle serious matters, interspersed with long, silent moments where not one finds it unusual not to be talking. We just go with the flow, we don’t feel compelled to sound serious, silly, festive, silent, or stupid. We get to choose what we want to be at any moment, and that is the real spirit of Christmas, when we are able to be who we are so we can best appreciate what we have become. Merry Christmas to all!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 22, 2013.


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