Running Tales # 4: Two Faces of Christmas

“ It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..” so goes the Christmas song  blaring on the radio or in the malls signifying the start of the merry season. 
Running around the Metro, one can't miss the many colorful Christmas decorations on buildings and houses nor the many sparkling lights and parols hanging from trees and lamp posts. Then there is the scent of freshly cooked Puto Bumbong and Bibingka from makeshift stalls ready to greet the steady stream of people coming out of church after misa de galo.  There  is an undeniable chill in the air; the pleasantly cool weather  that only seems to amplify that the holidays are upon us once again.  

For many of us, Christmas is a time  of comfort, peace, and abundance.  We’re fortunate if that is the case. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season dashing around in search of the perfect gift for everyone on our list or partaking in a scrumptious spread of food and drinks accompanied by lots of merry making and laughter amid the company of family and friends. 

Christmas Definitely is the most wonderful time of the year but there is also a flip side to all these. Amid the holiday decors and the sparkling lights, I also notice an increase of beggars on the streets where I run.  A toddler who I estimate to be  about 2 years old, no underwear and slippers and who looked to me like he hasn't had a decent bath in weeks walks up to me and says “Merry  Christmas".   I open my running pouch, hand him a little something and with a sincere smile he says "Salamat Po" then walks away greeting another pedestrian along the way.  I imagine he will be "doing the rounds" throughout the season greeting everyone he possibly could, taking comfort from the kindness and generosity of strangers just so he and his family can have a Christmas of their own. And what about those families who may have suffered a recent loss of a loved one either through sickness or tragedy or those who may be missing the presence of a family member who is far away and cannot be together for the holidays for one reason or another?  I can almost imagine what their Christmas will be like.  Undoubtedly,  there are two faces to the season we celebrate as Christmas; two faces that are so radically divorced from each other.   Which raises the question - Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? 

Though Christmas is a time of celebration, family and giving it is also a time to spare a thought for the less fortunate who may not have the means to provide their families with the 'picture perfect' Christmas we dream about.  Christmas is also a time for gratitude, caring for one another, taking time to be present with one another. A giving of ourselves more than just the giving of gifts.  It is a time when we open our hearts and put others first.  This may be a way we can truly imbibe the "Christmas spirit" no matter what may be going on in our personal lives. With that in mind, I wish you and yours the love, the joy, the beauty, and the peace of this special season. May Jesus’ love surround you at Christmas and always.