THE SECOND longest Christmas season in the world — the longest was the original—appears likely – unless a miracle happens– to be unlike any other , before and after: somber and subdued.
There’s hope, both fragile and sensitive, that things would get better at the last minute. Filipinos, after all, are an 11th hour nation. But like the last lap in a marathon, it feels like it’s too long, the finish line even farther afar off, and oxygen is fast running out. If the legs are weary, though, the spirit isn’t about to give up. The body may be weak, St. Paul, wrote, but the spirit is willing.
That will make a huge difference, and Filipinos are good at it, history would bear that out. We’re like our bamboo, according to one prominent Filipino writer, pliant but hardy, bending with the wind but never breaking
To be sure, the pandemic is front and center of this whole thing. Like the famous Muhammad Ali, it has cut the space where we ” live, move and have our being”, away from his haymaker but not out of his constant, hurtful jabs.
We have survived every round and will like go the distance. But, along the way, we ar e bruished, bled and battered. Tens of thousands of jobs lost, businesses shut down and the good life going down the drain in the slippery slope for many, if not most. There should be more poor, in spirit and susbtance, this Christmas.
There is a sense, however, widely felt that somehow that there is just more than the virus that has afflicted us.
Even Christmans couldn’t escape politics. There’s the combo ban on caroling, family reunions and, because of them, so goes the ancient “mano po” tradition. The “Simbang Gabi” has been revised to make it look like the opposite. The modern Scrooges in our midst must be wearing an impish grin.
In the first Christmas, a politician by the name of Herod tried to spoil the extended celebration by hoodwinking the three wise men on their way to pay homage to a king. They were promply warned by an angel to go another route to evade the soon-to-be a madman and murderer.
Herods are still around, and they may appear Santa -like. Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts, or politicians offering paeans.
Even as the goodwill of the season starts to grace the gray landscape, lifting us momentarily from what is pervasively a dry (or wet) and dreary landscaoe, lives are still lost in extrajudicial misfortunes that reduce human life to a chicken’s and human rights discarded as mere fringe benefits. This is not the Christmas spirit, by any stretch of sane imagination.
Like a distant star, there’s the vaccine in sight. Two things to bear in mind: we’re not exactly first in line and we will probably get it later than sooner. That’s not Christmas. You don’t manage your expectation. You wan the best. You even need surprise.
For once, our politicians, our leaders should give the nation a break, please. No more, no less. That begins from the top. Stop the incessant bullying and browbeating, live or recorded. The pandemic is one too many a bully already.
Be kind to people you meet, Plato admonished, because everyone is fighting a harder battle. Far too many are meeting life eyeball to eyeball with such an unprecedented challenge during this supposed season of peace and good will to men.
A little bit of kindness will go a long way towards the finish line.