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misa de gallo started today. in the christian tradition, it is the start of the christmas season. and for 9 consecutive days, people from all walks of life will hear a very early mass.

i am no scrooge but i don’t personally celebrate christmas.

before when my lola was still with us, it was my all time favorite season. christmas eve was spent with family, after the 10.30pm mass we gather in the dining area for our noche buena. my sister have an affinity to queso de bola that i nevered like, too salty for my taste buds. i like the honey cured beef leg ham that one of our suppliers (before we had a construction business) always gives us during this season. this would last us until new years celebration, it’s that big. mom’s all time favorite halo-halo special ice cream from magnolia and my tita‘s brazo de mercedez. of course there’s the usual pansit bihon (for long life), morcon, hamonado, mechado, kaldereta and other dishes my dad would make. i remember one christmas, the sound of music was being shown in channel 9. it was the first time i saw and i fell in love with it. we would eat till around 2 in the morning. dad’s gregarious laugh would fill our household. my mom is contented with her castanas which she shares with ate carina. morning means checking up the christmas tree for gifts. i never believed in santa. but i do hang christmas stockings (old socks) with a letter not address to santa. i knew early on that it was my mom that give the gifts. after openning the gifts, it would be prep time for our annual reunion at my lola‘s house. a very sweet old lady my mom’s mom was. my mom’s family is big, like 13 of them. with an average of 4 children per family. then there’s the extended family. however she manages to remember all our names. and takes note if someone had won an award or given a medal. when i won the math regional olympiad, my lola gave me the darth vader saber. really cool! when she passed away from a stroke, our reunions was never the same. during high school i never attended a single reunion until now.

the day i officially dropped off christmas was june 20, 1997, the day my dad died. he died beside me, in a hospital bed. we were admitted because he was feverish after one of our hemo-dialysis. he never went home… i realized later that that was the day i erased christmas. christmas, my family, would never be the same without my dad. i miss him everyday. the first christmas without him was the most painful. i admit that i almost killed myself. i was in my room, christmas eve. i had a fight with my eldest sister about me not wanting to go home and staying at my appartment near my college. crying silently, i had the knife by my wrist when my computer played “daddy’s home”. an old song that reminds me of my dad. i cried myself to bed.

now it’s just me and my mom at home. all my siblings have their own family. not a single decoration in our house. christmas carolers don’t sing on our door step. they tried before and all they got was a stern look from me. it’s not that i hate christmas, it’s just that i don’t see any point in celebrating it. of course it’s the birth of Christ, but it’s between me and Him.

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