Sunday Lifestyle

Pride discovered at christmas

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez Ventura - The Philippine Star

During the holiday season I sometimes wish I were a small child again. I would breathe in the joyous spirit in the air, the heady fragrance of Baguio pine, the lovely twinkling multicolored lights, that feeling of utmost festivity in the air. Everyone smiling and laughing all the way, as the classic Christmas carol says. Instead, now I feel holidays have grown old with me. I tried to revitalize the holidays for myself but unfortunately was not very successful.

I tried to set a Christmas table. I had a lovely fruitcake given to me by one of my clients that I could serve with queso de bola. I made my favorite fruit salad. Guests were coming to visit. As it turned out they all hated fruitcake and fruit salad. They were just dropping in to wish us Merry Christmas then they toddled off to celebrate it elsewhere.

My husband is not well. He tires easily when he is seated. But in the spirit of the season the caregiver and I dressed him up in shorts and put a printed shirt over his white T-shirt. He looked funky, just the way I love him. We put him first in his wheelchair, then wheeled him to his favorite La-Z-Boy chair where we sat him up. Then we crossed his legs as he would have and I took a picture of him to record how he looked on Christmas Eve 2021. The photograph impressed his children, especially his son who lives in Singapore.

We struggled to get him dressed. He didn’t see the point of wearing shorts and he hated printed shirts. He owns one white shirt with gray prints. He had to be convinced to wear it when his second son was getting married two years ago and specified printed shirts for his last single dinner. When my husband wore it then he really looked good. Everyone told him how handsome he looked. This time he didn’t want to wear it again. The caregiver and I struggled to get him in the shirt. Everyone who saw him once again said he looked so good in it. That made him like it so much he refused to get out of the outfit until late Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day my husband slept while my only son Gino, his wife Faye, his daughter Maxine and his pet dog Bailey picked me up at noon. We had lunch outdoors at Wolfgang’s at The Podium. It was a real treat for all of us to be eating outdoors with a decent table setting, what felt like fresh air, and a view of the Ortigas skyline. Bailey, who I always think of as a puppy because he is so small, is actually 14 years old but he looks like a baby and has all the baby props — a stroller, a baby bag that Faye carries that contains his medicines and other paraphernalia.

Maxine is the younger of my two granddaughters. The older one, Natalia, works in Los Angeles in the US. Maxine is finishing college fairly soon but is at present a radio host on a program called New Wave. She gets paid for her work. She is the grandchild who unknowingly follows in my footsteps. Before I married at 18 I was on TV with Father Reuter and Father Trent playing roles in little dramas and doing newscasts, but only for a short while, because I got married and all those activities ended for me. Now, suddenly Maxine also crochets wonderful stuffed animals. She taught herself to crochet and loves it. Just like me, though, we live so far apart from each other and I never passed on the knowledge to her. She simply got my genes passed on through her father, my only son.

Her father proudly shows me his Chewbacca (from Star Wars) high-cut rubber shoes, which make his feet look monstrously hairy. He loves walking around in these hairy rubber shoes, gets that craziness from me, too. His father’s family was not crazy that way.

Now I realize that this Christmas Day was God’s gift to me. I never viewed myself as the ideal mother. I had so many faults raising my children as a single mother, sometimes it felt like juggling a hundred balls. I was always dropping many because I was learning how to be a parent and how to do a job well at the same time. That was exhausting. My children and I grew up together in a conflicted world of silliness, laughter, tears and finally stumbling into maturity.

Now I see how we have influenced each other, how we learned from each other. Somehow I passed on my genes to and through them. Somehow I have inadvertently set some kind of an example. Now they — my children and grandchildren — make me so proud.

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