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My White Christmas

BIG LITTLE PEOPLE - Grace D. Chong (The Freeman) - December 26, 2015 - 9:00am

Christmas after Christmas, my mother, a pharmacist, would put up the same tree on a corner table at her drugstore.

Her predictable next steps: cut surgical cotton into strips and fluff them up for each branch; hang lots of candies; then top the tree with a star made from an aspirin box.

I hated it – although I never said it aloud, of course.

***

Those candies she gave away to children carolers until only the cotton would be left on Christmas Day.

That tree had always been old – my parents bought it the year they got married.

But that was just the beginning to what she called “White Christmas.” She’d wrap in Manila paper many items: bars of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and clothes we were still wearing, and stack them up under the tree.

These, too, would disappear on Christmas Day; they were for the less fortunate members of our church.

***

On Christmas Eve, from church, my friends would be served arroz caldo in our house. Then after we had sung some carols and formed a prayer circle (holding the hands of the persons on each side of you), and thanking God for His birth, they’d go home. We’d go to bed.

“White Christmas” was not my kind of Christmas, which was the only Christmas celebration we had from my grade school years through college.

I thought, “Why can’t we have a Noche Buena with ham and other yummy treats? Why can’t I have as many gifts as the other children do?”

That’s why I really looked forward to my first real white Christmas when I left for the US.

***

Chicago, the city where I went to school, did not disappoint me at all. It snowed from morning till night days before December 25. Walking from my school to the train station on Christmas Eve, I saw real trees blanketed with fluffy wads of cotton-like snow.

It was beautiful!

Suddenly, however, I saw other pictures in my mind: they were of our “White Christmas” at home. These scenes in my thoughts took the place of the lovely postcard-like scenery of snow around me.

I bawled. I mean, I really cried – aloud. A good thing the place was almost deserted; there were no people who could hear how silly I was acting.

I really longed for that old Christmas tree, the whole “White Christmas” thing. It was at that moment, at age 19, that my heart finally understood.

***

Christmas is not about me. It’s not about how I feel about Christmas trees, gifts, or food.

It is about the birth of our Savior, of Jesus. And of how He will forgive our sins, of how He will turn our forgiven sins white as snow.

I realized that snow was a symbol of Christmas. No wonder my mother would put “snow” on her Christmas tree! It was to remind people about the reason for Jesus’ Holy Birth.

***

I looked up and allowed the snowflakes to fall on my tear-wet face. And I recited, aloud, the verse that always ended our prayer at home before going to bed on Christmas Eve:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

I hope you all had a meaningful Christmas.

Email me at: gdchong@gmail.com or send me a message through my website: http://leavesofgrace.blogspot.com.

ACIRC CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS DAY CHRISTMAS EVE HOLY BIRTH NOCHE BUENA ON CHRISTMAS EVE PRINCE OF PEACE QUOT TREE WHITE CHRISTMAS
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