by April S. Campeña
When -BER Months Start
Some say that Filipinos have the longest Christmas celebration. This begins at the start of the -ber month, September. We start to see parols being made, colorful lights and lanterns are put up along different streets and houses. Families also bring out their Christmas trees and decorations from their storage. Christmas lists are prepared especially for those who wish to give some presents for their godchildren or inaanak. We, Filipinos, like being prepared for this season– blocking some dates for get togethers, looking for venues to set our Christmas parties, organizing company gatherings, thinking of themes for Kris Kringle and more. Around this time, some Christmas carols are already being played, especially the famous song of Mr. Jose Mari Chan – Christmas in our Hearts. Choir groups also start to make a set list of Christmas songs and practice for their caroling.
Lights & Smiles | A colorful 2019 Christmas Party with the Grade School Unit and the rest of the Scholastican community.
However, not all of these have been done since September started. This pandemic has kept most of us in our homes since March for our own safety. Almost everything has migrated online. We can see live selling on Facebook, monthly promotion deals from online shops like Shopee and Lazada and the like. Concerts from our favorite artists are also done virtually. Most employees now have the option to work from home and all classes are held online via different video conferencing apps.
It has been 9 months of quarantine and it makes us wonder when this will end. Will things ever go back to the way they were? What will our Christmas look like?
Missing the Usual Christmas Traditions
Who would have thought that this kind of pandemic will happen this year? I never imagined that I will get to experience an event such as this. As a teacher, I miss a lot of things in my previous school routines. I miss scanning my school ID on the turn style and rushing to tap it on our attendance kiosk. I miss the laughter of students along the hallway as they chase one another in the playground or when they happily greet me “Benedicite Teacher!” followed by hugs. I miss having breakfast and coffee breaks with my co-teachers. The list just goes on and on.
This December, there will be no sneaky tactics to drop off our Kris Kringle gifts in the Christmas box; we will not get to decorate our bulletin boards with the Advent theme or the Nativity scene. I will miss watching the Panunuluyan on stage as participated by students, teachers and other members of the Scholastican community from different units and the partaking of the German cookies Lebkuchen that are often baked by the grade 5 and 6 students.
This year, we might not get to see the interesting performances of the Benedictine Sisters – like their versions of Christmas carols and their acting on stage. We will not get to have our Christmas parties by unit and as an institution. We will miss exchanging gifts and that exciting (and sometimes confusing) revelation of who their “mommies” are for the Kris Kringle. We would not be able to send small Christmas tokens for our students as we have our Christmas parties. We will also miss meeting our brothers and sisters from our school’s adopted barangays.This Christmas Sharing Program is also the time that we get to know and share our blessings with them - having fun games, students winning prizes for our special guests, and most especially meeting new friends even just for a day.
Ora et Labora | Thanksgiving prayer during Advent season and doing God's work along with the children during Christmas Sharing.
Christmas in this New Normal
All these things are now our new normal. So how would Christmas be like? We may be physically apart from one another, but with different means of communication, we have all grown closer to one another. We have realized the importance of having good relationships with our family members, friends and our colleagues. We became more conscious of staying healthy, not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones as well. We have all found ways to make this season of Christmas even more meaningful despite this pandemic. We still get to decorate with different lanterns, put up our Christmas trees and set up our Nativity in our homes. The true spirit of Christmas is when we have give “more” of ourselves. More quality time with our families, more time to reflect on our ways and pray for those who are in need. We have become more mindful of our actions and sensitive to people’s feelings – we checked in on how they are doing, how they are feeling, and how they are coping these days. We have become more supportive of our newfound hobbies and skills. Seeing how this sickness affected everyone – from those who are in position, have monetary means up to even innocent babies, have made us become more humble and grateful for our lives, safety and everyday blessings.
We may not be able to physically visit each other’s homes or get together for reunions, but we can still get in touch with them and have Zoom parties. We may not be able to personally hand the gifts over to our family and friends, but with the help of our frontliners who help deliver, this will be possible. Churches may be closed for now, but celebrating mass has even reached across different provinces, even in far countries, through different social media platforms.
God has sent us His “more” and we will joyfully await the birth of Jesus.
We may never go back to how the way things are because we should have become better individuals after this pandemic is over. Now, more than ever, we put our trust in the Lord that He will see us through. This year might be a little different than what we are used to but one thing that will never change is that the birth of Jesus brings us peace, renews our hope and strengthens our faith. May we all reflect Jesus in each one of us as we welcome Him into our hearts.
More than Colleagues | Bonds of friendship among us can be seen as we celebrate Christmas party in school.