Sunday Lifestyle

Hello, December

LOVE LUCY - The Philippine Star

You’ve always been gentle and beautiful through the years; please stay that way. I say that almost out loud, a wish that comes from a pocket in my heart, as I wake up to a beautiful (if misty) day in our room that smells like lavender fields (thanks to the essential oils I diffuse nightly), warm and cozy in crisp white sheets embroidered with red gumamelas. It is almost Christmas. Where are you in your life right now?

This year went by so fast. I know: we adults always say that, like we are entitled to always wrap up that way the busyness we navigate and ram ourselves into day after day, as events spill over into weeks, months, until we all wake up one day in December to find that yet another year has passed. So many things I was not able to do — for one, pursue a secret dream that one day I may be brave enough to tell you about in this space, start on a project that I have postponed twice already — and these two but among maybe seven others that top my “One Day I Will Do This” list!

Having said that, though, there were also so many things I was able to take on, mainly because I took a leap of faith. I say that because, after all, we are never really completely ready for the big things, but somehow, with a prayer I have jumped into many little adventures, trusting (and maybe quietly knowing) that the details will just work themselves out somehow, as they are always wont to do anyway. For all that, I am thankful. And with only a few more weeks before 2017 rests upon us all, it may not be entirely premature anymore to take stock of all that was. 

There have been many victories in a year dotted with battles, both big and small, and my heart is full. I am grateful. My world as I know it, though bigger now, is also smaller, and I kind of like it that way. I keep a tight circle of friends; I value small gatherings where no one is left out and everyone is able to spend quality time with one another more than I ever will at big, big parties; I find joy in spending quiet time, working with heart and hands, looking upon each and all as grace-filled opportunities to fill my soul and replenish my personal happiness quotient. All the more now I understand how I must fill myself, restore whatever is weary and broken about me, so that I can continue to have much to give.

Perhaps my most tender memory of the year happened in the quiet of one night, sometime in October, when the three of us (Richard, myself, Juliana), found ourselves awake way past midnight, on a weekend thankfully, watching a cooking show about hotdogs with hollandaise and jalapeños, fighting our hunger itch to run over to McDonald’s for a burger that never disappoints. Instead, we ate cashew nuts and seaweeds, the two edible things I at least had at the ready in our room that very moment. We were talking about electives, the volleyball game Juliana and her team had lost earlier that day, that she claimed broke their hearts, and I resisted the urge to tell her life will have heartbreaks bigger than volleyball games. But I did not say anything, and I just looked happily at father with daughter, my two treasures, as I marvel at their special bond. They are alike in so many ways, and conspire endlessly on matters that are very different from what she and I join forces on. She has the best of both worlds, as I think she is never without an ally — maybe it is the birthright of an only child. On another evening shorty after that we were in Juliana’s room, playing records and drinking nut milk, just being and chilling.

I feel all warm and fuzzy in my heart, because time together as a family is now all the more precious and rare. Richard’s work and mine, though intertwined, take us geographically apart for the most part, and I do not know how we have been able to manage, but we have, we do, and we make the most of what we have when we all find ourselves together. I cannot and should not complain, because I know there are other couples who have it harder. Life moves forward; this is where we are right now, and in every day there are many beautiful moments to be had.

Our Christmas tree has been up since early November and I do not know what it is about being all grown up that makes one sentimental and nostalgic, at Christmas time most especially. There have been many nights as I let myself in the house from a long day at work, that I sit on the sofa and light up the tree. It is beautiful in my eyes, filled with red roses and trimmings from when I was but a new bride some 18 years ago. It sparkles here and there with tiny white lights, and in an aquarium beside it are pretty fish that look like they are wearing evening gowns swimming peacefully, lost, too in a world all their own. Somehow, I do not like listening to slow songs anymore and somehow, my old playlist makes me sad. So I borrowed Juliana’s playlist and she has all these songs that make me feel so young and alive, such that many mornings when I dress up for work I get a good start just by dancing like no one is watching, which is really quite easy to do because, well, no one is watching. It feels so good, this natural high that comes from dancing to a good song. 

Anyway. Always, but most especially every day in December, I want to remind myself of the good things — the gift of family and friends, life’s many blessings and surprises, the bundle of joy that is my daughter and all her funny thoughts, the quiet, dependable strength of my handsome and brave man, the triumphs and victories in the battlefield as I know it, the trials that foster both courage and character and make us stronger, the fact that there is still so much love in a world that can sometimes be cruel and sad. 

And with that, I wish you all a very merry Christmas season. May it be warm, and wonderful, and beautiful — in every way that matters.

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