40 Days Before Christmas 2020

It’s mid-November now. It’s as if time flew by like a shooting star or a meteorite.

But unlike a minute fragment of a heavenly body hurtling through space, leaving with it a trail of fleeting light, and giving the superstitious who were lucky enough to be looking at the dark sky when it passed by a brief moment to breathe a wish, the time that we are experiencing now is fraught with worry and uncertainty.

For my fellow Filipinos, it is much more than the anxiety brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic but the destruction and death caused by the recent consecutive typhoons–Quinta, Rolly, Ulysses. Pictures of places ravaged by the typhoon, videos of residents shivering on rooftops as the water continue to rise around them, and sad cries and pleas for help of people asking to be rescued can certainly make one feel forlorn. For a few days now, I have also been thinking of creating a piece that would focus on how being in the Pacific Ring of Fire puts the Philippines in a bad spot in terms of proneness to natural disasters, how the government should act more decisively, how the people could be more prepared, and so on. But right now, it’s a Sunday, a time for rest and reflection and the words that beg to be written concern the upcoming Christmas more than the rants and blame game.

For the Filipinos, the word Christmas evokes warm feelings of home, a delicious array of the purple-colored puto bumbong, luscious bibingka and sticky, tasty suman, the cold touch of the dawn wind, the priest’s homily and the solemnity of the Simbang Gabi, the colorful and brightly-lit parol lanterns decorating each home and the cozy and comfortable feeling of home, family and friendship.

Christmas. What a beautiful word it is. It brings memories of childhood, of moments and laughter shared with loved ones, of good food with its delicious aroma, of treasures under the Christmas tree wrapped in shiny or colorful papers with curled ribbons, of lovely messages written on carefully-selected Christmas cards, and of carols sung by the angelic voices of children. For the Filipinos, the word Christmas evokes warm feelings of home, a delicious array of purple-colored puto bumbong, luscious bibingka and sticky, tasty suman, the cold touch of the dawn wind, the priest’s homily and the solemnity of the Simbang Gabi, the colorful and brightly-lit parol lanterns decorating each home and the cozy and comfortable feeling of home, family and friendship.

Thus, I would endeavor, I am not sure if this is going to be easy considering the recent situations we are experiencing around us, to come up with a random list of 40 items that could brighten each day, as we do the countdown towards Christmas. Here we go:

  1. Your parent/s. Thanks to them you were brought into this world.
  2. Your grandpas and grandmas. The way they made you feel so cherished, the candies they gave you as kid, the stories about anything under the sun.
  3. Your sibling/s. Growing up, their companionship made your family life more meaningful.
  4. Your child/ren. How being a parent made you feel complete and gave you purpose and meaning and realize the wonder of creation and life.
  5. Your relatives. Some are nice; some not so, but they are part of the big network of people that first gave you a sense of belongingness.
  6. Your best friend. Ah, best friends are just treasures, the way that you can have endless conversations and the way that you can share your thoughts with each other.
  7. Your friends. These wonderful bunch of people are a joy to be around. Their boisterous or quiet presence bring more warmth and joy to your life.
  8. Your mentors. These are people who guide you and help you make good decisions or steer you towards the path that can develop your personality and skills. They inspire you. They sometimes criticize you if only to put some sense in you.
  9. Your job/work. Thanks to it, you can have a nice shelter, clothes to wear, food to eat and a sense of accomplishment.
  10. Your workplace buddy. That one person whom you feel closest to in the workplace who makes difficult days lighter.
  11. Your work colleagues. You spend times together quietly working on achieving your office’s or company’s goals and celebrating the little milestones in the office.
  12. Your boss. That person who, although not the most agreeable person at times, saw a potential in you to be part of the company.
  13. Your own business. One that originated from the concept you dreamt of late at night, or in a sudden burst of inspiration that you thought could offer a service needed by people.
  14. Your workspace. The place where you can put some personal touches–a quote here, a plant there, some colored pens in a mug given to you as a token in one of those parties, etc.
  15. Your receptionist or communication officer. One who greets you when you arrive, who answers calls, who routes emails, and who may be familiar with the recent announcements.
  16. Your company’s sanitary engineer. One who makes your office spic ‘n span; one who stays after events and celebrations to make the place ready once again for next day’s work.
  17. Your work computer. Where you do a lot of work, save files; one that reflects your face when you feel a range of emotions; one with whom you spend several hours each day as you put together your ideas, make presentations, answer clients’ concerns and sometimes sneak a few moments during your break to check up on a friend or read the news or view pictures.
  18. Your personal computer and your mobile phone. One with which you spend time watching movies during weekends or weekend evening, where you listen to music, save photos, write your blog entries, etc. That you use to call or message important people and use as as an alarm clock or as a reminder of an event or occasion.
  19. Your house/apartment. Where you ran to at the end of a long day, your haven in a harried world. Where you can practice a bit of your interior decoration skills.
  20. Your kitchen. It’s where you try to make your dream to be a master chef a reality, even for a few minutes each day, where you prepare delicious breakfast before you usher yourself to face a challenging day. Where the delicious smell of pancakes or fried bacon emanates during weekend mornings, etc.
  21. Your bedroom. That haven in your house/apartment where you can rest your body on the soft mattress and silky blankets. Where you can surround yourself with pillows or where you can explore your passion with someone dear.
  22. Your bathroom. An oasis at home where you can take a long refreshing bath in the morning or a relaxing bath at night. Where you let the virus disappear together with the fragrant suds after a day spent outdoors or in a crowded place.
  23. Your living room. Where you put pictures of you with a wide smile as you visited another city or country or conquered another mountain. Where you can put that lovely painting that you brought somewhere or got as a gift and where you can match the colors of your sofa, cushions and carpet, and arrange your books in a way that your favorites are most accessible.
  24. Time. Time is a precious gift that we are given the opportunity to use every day.
  25. Gift of language. The ability to communicate with people is something to be thankful for. We can share our ideas and insights. We can share stories, plans and dreams with those close to our hearts.
  26. Gift of the mind. A lot of things happen in the mind–your dreams, your goals, your concepts. Where actions first start as an idea. Where you store your knowledge or any other information which may be useful each day and in certain circumstances.
  27. Books. Books allow you to travel, feel and experience vicariously. They are quiet yet comforting companions, the perfect partner on rainy mornings and serene evenings or dawns. They contain a wealth of information and wisdom passed through the ages.
  28. News outlets. They let you know what’s going on in different parts of the world. They update you about what, when, where, why and how. (Just be careful to of the sources and the accuracy of the information.)
  29. Shopping malls. You can buy things you need and want. You can go to your favorite shop and buy an item or two or simply do some window-shopping.
  30. Inspiring personalities. They are people you can look up to, whose successes inspire you and make you feel hopeful. They are those who stand out from the rest and make people believe that indeed, there are still those who will choose the right path even if it may be full of challenges or danger or difficulties.
  31. Ordinary people/the humanity. They are part of your life, even though you may live in different continents or speak different languages or wear different clothes or worship different divine beings. Like them, you have dreams of living a meaningful life, being with your family and loved ones, having the means to live decently, and being in a world that values peace and shared humanity.
  32. Your education. Your teachers, classmates, classrooms, schools and universities that imparted useful knowledge to you. That made you a capable human being able to take part and/or contribute to the society.
  33. Your government. The leaders, officials, departments and agencies that make the gears of the different aspects of your country–political, economic, cultural, social–run smoothly. Thank you to those who lead capably and serve with a heart and whose leadership is guided by right principles, honesty, and integrity.
  34. Peacekeepers, teachers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, and all professionals, as well as vocational workers, artisans, laborers, etc. Thank you for doing your part in the society and in the world, for sharing your skills, time and talent.
  35. Musicians, painters, poets, theater performers, dancers, writers. Thank you for bringing art into the world, for softening its sharp edges, for spreading beauty and love and passion.
  36. Nature. Look at the beauty around you–blue skies, towering trees, lush greeneries, flowing rivers, clear streams, azure oceans, colorful flowers, rich-brown earth. Isn’t it wonderful to be in the midst of this beauty?
  37. Love, kindness, compassion, honesty, patience, and all other virtues. The world is a much nicer place because of these and because of people who embody these.
  38. Serendipitous moments. Those times when you discover something new and wonderful without planning or expecting them. When you see or experience something unexpected yet heartwarming or life-changing.
  39. Yourself. Just look at you–a unique human being wonderfully made and one who is meant to be part of this sometimes chaotic but beautiful world. You are distinctly you, with your own character, nature, personality, and abilities.
  40. God. The powerful being who created the world, all living things, the Earth and the entire universe. Whose presence is felt not only in churches but also in the blossoming of flower buds, the creation of human beings, the synchrony and harmony of millions of heavenly bodies in space, and in moments of joy and sadness, triumph and despair.
Look at this lone flowering plant that grew along the banks of the Seine River. I was really overjoyed to see this fragile yet strong yellow beauty in the midst of gray and brown during my recent walk.
I’m thankful to experience the beauty of multi-hued autumn in Paris before the cold and gray winter commences.

Thank you for reading until this part. It’s somehow amazing that when I started, I felt that the task would be so daunting but as I added each item to the list, more and more ideas came up. Perhaps, this is a reminder that we really have so much to be grateful for despite the challenges we encounter at times.

I wish you and your loved ones great days leading towards Christmas and until the end of year 2020. May you find time to appreciate the many blessings you’re given. May you be surrounded by love, peace and happiness. May you feel your blessings everyday. Take care. ❤

Advance Merry Christmas to everyone or as others would prefer, advance Happy Yuletide Season!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlou says:

    Human beings are used to look at the negative things in order to progress ; how nice you remind us of the positive things with that list


    1. emi_f says:

      Thank you, Charlou. 🙂 I wish you a great new week.


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