Sunday Lifestyle

What I’m thankful for

LOVE LUCY - The Philippine Star

It is February, and I should perhaps be writing about flowers and love letters and soft music. But it’s been a long and hard day and flowers and love letters and music are the farthest things from my mind. In the quiet of my room I sit in silence for a while, looking at the flowers embroidered on the duvet cover. How pretty they are. I decide to find something to wrap — it is my own tiny but sure way of making the day go down easier. There is something comforting about choosing and touching pretty paper, the way I am able to crease and fold them crisp and straight here and there, the pale blue grosgrain ribbon that is predictably and dependably gorgeous always, the knowing that good thoughts and wishes are attached to it as I send it out.

At day’s end, whatever we do — whether we succumb to the pleasure of a long shower, eat a bowl of hearty soup, hide under the sheets, or, like me now, choose to spend a bit of time wrapping a gift first before I do all of the above — we are never alone. We bring with us friends and colleagues and conversations we had, all the stresses and stressors, the joys (some constant, some fleeting), the meals (the crispy pata I had for lunch was a highlight of the day!); yes, even the traffic and all the musings that go through our minds while stuck in it.

Our thoughts are very much a part of us, like it or not. That is why I try to police mine, lest they dictate the way the entire day goes. As I worked with my hands, I saw more than just the gift I was wrapping. I saw all the Decembers when Mommy allowed me to wrap Christmas presents — the sum of it was my training ground, so to speak. I remember all the Martha Stewart magazines and books I browsed through, the craft sessions I attended where I learned to make all kinds of paper flowers. I saw my Tita Inday and all that I learned from her about making anything and everything pretty. I also saw the recipients and I remember their circumstances, the heartbreak they must be going through now after having lost someone very dear. I hope this cheers them up. It is the image of the chubby and sweet Baby Jesus, curled up and sleeping peacefully on a cross. I pray it brings some cheer, and if that is too much to ask in the here and now, then I hope for some measure of comfort for their family. I realize now that when a day seems hard, we almost never say that about just the day. Always, it is layered upon how it impacts our lives on a bigger scale.

The break really is over. I was extending my favorite season as much as I could but the only remnant I have of it is the fact that I still have Christmas presents to open. Thank God for that. I always have my Christmas in February. But it is back to the normal grind now. Each day has its joys and troubles, some days (like today) more than the one before that. As we grow up, the bigger our responsibilities are and to a certain degree the more complicated life gets. I was messaging one of my favorite people in the world and we were talking about crosses. She said something very wise — about how each of us has a cross to bear and that we should not take upon ourselves the cross of another. That is his/hers to bear, in the same way that mine is exactly just that: mine. I should not expect someone else to carry it for me.

All the more now I am thankful that I grew up in a family that taught me to pray. Having God and His angels and saints and Mama Mary to call on for guidance and help is like having my very own Superfriends. The altar in my bedroom is a source of much comfort for me. I see the images and I feel loved — as most of them are gifts, from family, friends, strangers, even. There are but a handful that I bought for myself. I have kept all I received through the years, and of late, I have taken to sticking pretty labels under the statue or slipping a little note in the pouch or the box that holds it, detailing who gave it to me and the date I received it. When I am 85 and old and gray, I will still kneel before my altar daily and I will bring each of them (and their families) with me in prayer.

I am thankful for God. I am thankful for the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the Saints. I am thankful for answered prayers. And yes, I am thankful even for those I still am praying about. It is teaching me patience, it is fostering my faith. And with every day that comes and goes, I am thankful for the many ways we are able to cope. Never mind if it is as simple as wrapping a gift, and saying a prayer. What is important is we are able to make friends with the day and all that it brings. We move along as best we can and as we do, we create and continue the stories that are our lives.

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