The saddest & happiest Christmas
- Wilson Lee Flores () - December 18, 2005 - 12:00am
Christmas is a gift from God that a man cannot keep until he gives it to someone else. –Author unknown

It’s less than a week before Christmas, but why am I not excited? It has nothing to do with the unending political troubles of embattled President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or the persistent coup rumors.
North Pole Exile For Worst Jerk
I’m feeling down because I’ve been the worst jerk on earth and Santa should exile me to the North Pole. I quarreled with my Chinese-Canadian girlfriend, said some hurtful, unforgivable words and cancelled my plans of making a surprise visit to her on her birthday which coincides with the happiest of all holidays. How could the world’s most passionate romantic also be the world’s worst jerk?

I courted a fabulously smart and stunningly beautiful girl this year. She swept into my life like a whirlwind, giving me indescribable happiness. However, I have been an immature, arrogant, jealous and overly possessive jerk who deserves my cruel fate of a loveless Christmas for having stupidly picked three fights in six months. There’s no need to subpoena me for a congressional hearing, because I’m telling the unvarnished truth and I’m asking – no, I’m beseeching – all of you out there to impeach me.

Sharing this was a suggestion by the cousins Adoree Dee Jabanes and Dr. Justina So Jabanes whom I met at the recent Mandarin Hotel wedding reception after they heard my sob story. I realize now, more than ever, that the joy of Christmas can be most felt if shared with others, especially with people we love.

My claim that this is the saddest Christmas in our clan’s 200 years of celebrating this holiday is, of course, from a heartbroken but romantic jerk. But really, our family has been celebrating this holiday for two centuries in the Philippines even when my paternal ancestors were not yet Christians. My late dad’s forebears were then devout Buddhists and Taoists discriminated against by the Spanish rulers as "infidels" or "pagans."
How To Appreciate Christmas
It was only in the sixth generation of our clan that my dad and some of his kin became Christian – Catholics and Protestants, making the celebration of this birthday of Christ different and more personal. Dad became a Protestant late in life, while his seventh sister Maria became a Catholic nun and their eldest brother’s 73-year-old daughter Consuelo Lee, is today known as Sister Dominica at the St. Paul convent in Antipolo. Dad’s cousin, businessman Howard Dee, served as Philippine ambassador to the Vatican and is an exemplary Catholic philanthropist.

By our third generation, my great-great-grandfather, lumber industry pioneer Dy Han Kia who was Buddhist, was a friend of top Spanish colonial and ecclesiastical rulers. My grand-uncle Donald Dy, past president of the Philippine Lumber Merchants Association and son of pre-war lumber magnate Dy Pac, recounted that Dy Han Kia once had a lumberyard employee who accidentally killed a man, so Dy hurried to the convent to visit a powerful Spanish mother superior. When she heard it was her friend Dy, she let him in and assured the lumber tycoon that his employee would’t be in trouble.

When was the Christmas which I dare lay claim to as the happiest in our clan’s 200 years of celebrating this holiday?

My happiest Christmas was in 1988 when our family celebrated it on our teacher mom’s shoestring budget. She was a widow who juggled being full-time dad and full-time mom. Of course, we had a plastic Christmas tree festooned with colored lights and many Christmas cards, but I can’t forget her making a smaller crude tree atop the TV using walis tingting sticks, white styrofoam bits and other stuff. She cooked her specialty of marinated roast chicken, sotanghon noodles and macaroni chicken salad.

A week later on New Year’s eve, while the rest of the world exploded in paroxysms of noise, revelry and fireworks, mom would lead us in her annual practice of a quiet prayer. She had child-like faith. She believed that we should never forget that Christmas is about the birth of Christ and about imperishable hope. She said we can best appreciate the true joy of Christmas if we share it with those we love. She joked that young people relish celebrating the new year, but adults like her are usually melancholic about this yearly reminder of advancing age. Three months later on my birthday, mom suffered a stroke, and Christmas has never been the same again.
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