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Gloria in Excess (& I don't mean the President)


The other day, I played the role of Scrooge by pointing out our holiday excesses. You can’t exactly call me the Grinch because I don’t intend to spoil Christmas for everyone. All I was suggesting was to regulate the way we now go overboard with our Yuletide celebrations. Among the reasons I pointed out were the stressful inconveniences we go through starting mid-November every year and the health hazards that the commercialization of Christmas had brought upon us these past decades. Below are more reasons why we should curb our holiday excesses. 

The season can be wasteful — The usually disciplined people who watch their diet and exercise regularly lose it during the Yuletide break. There is so much food that our bodies do not need.

This is doubly stressful for December-born people like this writer because you don’t only get cakes for your birthday, but also for the holiday season. Of course, I shouldn’t be complaining and should be grateful instead, but it was really too much this time.

One very late evening, I came home with three boxes of cakes. Since I tried to be considerate enough not to wake up other people in the house, I tried to stuff everything in the refrigerator and so I ended up cutting to pieces beautifully decorated fondant cakes and stuffing these into microwavable containers. It pained me to do that, but there was no other recourse because the cake boxes took a lot of ref space. By the time I finished with my rearranging, the sun was already up and even the vampires and werewolves had called it a night.

I know there are a lot of ways to share food with others. One time I mentioned to a friend the dilemma of having to demolish a lot of food at home when he offered what could have been a practical solution: “Send them over!” I would have gladly done that, except that I wasn’t about to rush to Fairview and brave the holiday traffic. No, he wasn’t willing to take the long drive to my place in the Greenhills area for cake either.

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Maybe you will suggest giving the food to an orphanage. Good idea, but only if you have a ton of it. Giving it to street children is another option, but from experience you can end up getting assaulted by a mob — each demanding their share of the loot.

Distributing food among office staff and security personnel is also suggested. However, aren’t you sometimes tempted to take a bite or slice of each cake to satisfy your own cravings? You also need to have a taste of it because the giver may ask you how you found the food. You may lie a bit if you didn’t like it, but at least you need to have an opinion.

If you are giving away half-consumed foodstuff, make sure you point that out to the recipients because they may feel insulted that they are being given leftover. I was tempted to recycle as a present a cake I received second week of December, except that it would have been difficult to explain why there was a blue frosting inscription of Happy Birthday, Butch! on top.

To those who gave me food during the holidays, believe me I appreciated that a lot. Thank you very much. The thought that I have very nice, caring friends made me feel so blessed. But I was really way over up to here with good eats that expired on me. Can you imagine if I didn’t share those goodies with others? Our ref would have exploded, which actually happened when I was in my teens. After one New Year’s Eve celebration, we woke up to a crash in the kitchen. When we all came running down, we discovered that the ref door had decided to divorce itself from the rest of the fridge because it was overstuffed.

My mother also used to be the type to go overboard during the holidays — sometimes baking her own ham even. During the rest of the year, however, food budget was tight and the kids whine why we only have this or that for lunch and dinner. But come the holiday season — wham! — there was an overabundance of Christmas treats that the last thing we wanted to see was food.

Imagine if all the holiday goodies were spread out during the entire year? Husbands probably wouldn’t be complaining to their wives about having only a slice of fish for dinner and children won’t be fighting over viands.

People go hungry not just in Ethiopia, but right here in the Philippines. But come the holidays, there is an excess of food among the middle class and these get spoiled and thrown away. The tradition has truly become sinful and excessive.

The New Year’s Eve revelry is harmful — Watching all the fireworks sent off by Metro Manila residents on New Year’s Eve is always a big treat for me because I have the best seat — right in my living room, which has a floor to ceiling glass window that protects me from the fumes. The fireworks explode practically right on my face and that is one most beautiful sight that I treasure annually.

I enjoy that experience because it is there. However, I am still hoping we could still ban firecrackers and fireworks because of the dangers these pose on the Bocaue factory workers who have no option but to do that job (it’s a living) and the New Year’s Eve revelers themselves who handle the Judas’ belt, the super lolo and heaven knows what they have invented recently.

Last Jan. 1, after I marveled at the sight of the fabulous fireworks display during the first hour of the year, I woke up at 6 a.m. only to discover how the skyline was enveloped by thick smog and how the usually visible Mts. Arayat, Samat and even Banahaw had disappeared from view.

The New Year’s Eve revelry — with all the fireworks — are wonderful and admittedly even I enjoy that tremendously. But with each merry-making that we do every year we destroy our planet and we ought to rethink of other ways to celebrate New Year that will not be harmful to us and to the environment.

The holiday season leaves us with tons of garbage — The morning after New Year’s Eve is a nightmare for our street sweepers — what with all the remnants of the firecrackers scattered all over.

During mid-season, we are already confronted with used wrapping paper that garbed presents sent to us by friends and loved ones. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care if you send me a gift wrapped in banana leaves — for as long as the content is useful.

But some really make an effort to use difficult to discard glossy paper that they sometimes even cover with pretty plastic sheets that when not properly disposed of can clog our drainage system and cause another Ondoy.

Thanks for the thought, but among my close friends (usually the guys), we just call it quits and don’t give anything anymore to each other and that is a relief for them because it’s difficult to think of a present for me since I have very simple needs.

This year, why don’t we try going back to basics and spare ourselves of the hassles of Christmas preparations? That way, there is less stress during the holidays and we become better people in the process.

How do we do this? By focusing merely on the very reason why we have Christmas to begin with: The Savior who was born in a simple manger, devoid of tinsel, trimmings and all the trappings of our now crazy holiday season.

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