PHOTOGRAPH SOURCED FROM PINTEREST
Our theme for this issue reads like the popular movie but with a corona twist — “not” being the key word for those who got stuck in a bubble with family or roommates since the pandemic began.
Most Filipinos, at Christmastime, go out and visit friends and relatives. But with travel and health protocols, mobility has been restricted enough to keep one stuck at home to stay safe.
In the last several months, people had been filled with realizations about old and forgotten values they rediscovered, and about themselves and the basic yet most important things in life.
Even though there have been issues on mental wellness from either too much or too little exposure to family — it’s always about extremes, right? — the main lesson has been quite inspiring.
But for those who got stuck on their own, the same words can be read in reverse — alone not home — and how this Christmas season makes it so glaringly, painfully true.
What’s most difficult for all of us, being Pinoys who love to gather and eat together, is knowing that there is to be none of that for now, if we want to survive the holidays without catching the virus.
There will be no going home to the province to see the family you have missed for many months; no popping into each other’s houses and having instant parties; no hugs and kisses to moms and dads who are senior citizens.
We must refrain from all these for everyone’s sake.
Every Christmas Eve in the last 25 years had been spent at my in-laws’ home. We would have Noche Buena and then gift-opening around the tree. The kids loved this part, even though some of them are old enough to have kids of their own.
Their grandparents loved the family singing — when the family became 12 members, we began a tradition singing, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” with each person assigned a specific line.
Mine has always been “Seven swans a-swimming…” but, to be honest, this year I have often felt like a swan a-drowning.
This year, unless the parents learn to use Zoom or Meet or Viber Group, we may not have that group singing around the tree.
As for our Noche Buena, Christmas Dinner, Buena Noche and New Year’s Dinner, it was decided that each family would visit our parents one at a time (to keep the numbers down) and have a socially distant “picnic” in the veranda with them.
Our turn will be the midnight meal, and so we are preparing a grazing board, our own sets of cutlery, plates and glasses and pilllows to while the after-midnight waiting for the curfew to end so we can go home.
What a Christmas it will be — and if memories to be made will be under the cloud of the coronavirus, I believe only boundless faith and real connections with family and close friends can help see us through.
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