This year, I was transported back in time to the Christmas of my childhood, where we would go around visiting family and friends. Ima would wake us up early and with me, David, Noel, Non and Tatang in tow, would bring us to our friends’ and relative’s houses in Angeles, Dau and Mabalacat. I would be excited about all the aguinaldo that I would be getting from all the ingkong and apu, from all the ninong and ninang, from all the uncles and aunties. I would relish the Christmas delicacies we were served at every house. I would beam with pride as Ima would parade us before relatives and friends. I would look froward to playing games and just being with my cousins and younger uncles and aunts. In the beginning, it was the presents and the food that made Christmas for me. In time, it was the bonding and the coming together that I treasured the most.
This year, Kathleen and Martin together with Mickey, planned a road trip where we visited relatives and friends in Southern California for Christmas. It was a long nine days (a novena) but I relished every moment of it. I loved seeing old friends. I realized some friends come into our lives for a reason, others for a season and still others for a lesson – either theirs or our own. Some friends come into our lives and stay forever; others come and stay for a while and then are gone. We get to choose our friends and whether they stay or go is also their and our choice.
We did not choose our relatives. They are a given in our lives. Like the life we have been gifted with, relatives are God’s presents to us. At Christmastime, I remember Ima and Tatang with fondness and gratitude for the life they have made possible in me. This Christmas, I was very happy to have shared time with our relatives in SoCal, including the Barreras without whom Martin would be less of the man that he is today. Meeting and marrying Kathleen is the best that has ever happened in his life, just as Anabelle had been in my life.
Friends, we get to choose. Relatives are a given. We get to choose our spouses. But after all the years of living together, I get the sense that this was all a given after all. I know I chose Anabelle in the beginning just as she chose me. But now I realize that Anabelle is the one for me, made by God just for me and he reserved her for me till I finally met her.
Christmas time is a time for celebrating with family and friends. It is a time for presents and feastings. It is time for coming together today and for remembering yesterday and then making new memories for tomorrow. It is time for children and a time for adults to be children again. It is a time for thoughts and deep reflections, a realization that there is a Presence in our lives who has chosen to live among us. Christmas is when he says to me “I have come to be with you.” Thank you for Christmas.
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2, 41-52