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Sunday Lifestyle

A very quiet christmas

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez Ventura - The Philippine Star
A very quiet christmas

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas yesterday so that today, not a creature is stirring in your house, not even a tiny, hopefully dead mouse. In my house such is not the case. Our caregiver Cindy has taken three days off but she has installed Ann, another caregiver, to take her place for a little while. I have met Ann before and I like her. But my husband is afraid of her. He gives her wary looks, casts panicked looks in my direction when she moves to take care of him. He does not like change, so wish us all good luck.

We — you and I — are entering a period of uncertainty. The end of another terrible year and the beginning of an election year, which might be another terrible year though we all should pray that it will mark the end of what seemed to be a godforsaken life and the start of a new one filled with fresh novel blessings, that we will turn the corner from the darkness we have traveled to suddenly discover bright light again. Good management for our country once more. A fresh new beginning of all our lives. Please, God, take this grief away from us. Give us back the country we once knew.

For me this week between Christmas and New Year is a time spent looking far away, wishing for much, wondering what will be granted. It is also a time for sorting out things, opening drawers long closed, giving away what we no longer want or need, creating more space for growth, for more change, making room for more joy even as we grow older and wiser. Making room for more laughter, more love, more life no matter how uncertain.

Before Christmas Eve all rosaries ordered from me for Christmas had been delivered. Today I will probably be preparing for the new year that will descend. The 30th is the 125th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s execution. How do we pass on the sorrow and confusion of this occasion to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? But today, soon after New Year, my first great-grandson will be born in San Francisco, USA. I will not see him. I will probably gush over his beauty — all babies are beautiful — in photographs. His father Paolo, my first grandson whom I took care of for about a year, was born when I was 40. Now he is 37 or will be soon enough. All I can think of is how quickly time flies. Where has all the time gone?

Pow (which is what only I call Paolo) was born too early for me to turn into a grandmother. His mother asked me what I wanted him to call me, asking me to choose between the American “Granny” or the Filipino “Lola.” When she said “Granny” I thought of the caricature in the Playboy magazine of an old woman with long sagging breasts dressed in a transparent nightie stalking the corridors of hotels looking for a man. When she said “Lola” I thought of an old woman in a duster sweeping her yard with a walis tingting. That could not be me. I felt more like the Playboy Granny.

So I chose Granny. Powie — what I called him when he was tiny — couldn’t say it. He called me “Nannie,” spelled that way because The Nanny was the popular TV show of those times. Nanny meant yaya in English. So they spelled it differently, though it sounds the same. Now I don’t know what their baby son will call me. I think I want to be called “Lelang.” That sounds more like the way I feel sometimes, like a very old woman who creaks when she walks.

Christmas this year has been unusually quiet for us. My three daughters are all living abroad now, a statement on our government. My only son Gino picked me up for lunch at Wolfgang at the Podium because that is close enough to me. My husband Loy will be left alone with Cindy for lunch but it makes no difference to him. He doesn’t care much about Christmas. From his stories he says he never did. It was his wife who cared until she had a stroke doing Christmas shopping around four years before she passed away.

I have always had a Christmas tree no matter how small. This year I had one made up of a pink (for Leni Robredo) parol and the flower rose lights. I ordered the battery-operated lights from Lazada. I turn it on for a while before I go to sleep, while I watch TV. Here is a picture of my Christmas tree and the reflection of the TV show I watched during the holidays. That’s what Christmas means to me now. A quiet room, a pretty little Christmas tree, and the rest of the house fast asleep including perhaps an invisible mouse.

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CHRISTMAS

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