Christmas is here. Not yet, really, but I will it so. There are occasions that you cannot force to come before schedule--New Year, Lent, All Soul's Day, your birthday--and to do so will just be plain silly. But Christmas oh! you sure can. It has been frequently said that our country has the longest yuletide season. We begin hearing carols by September. We see obsessive compulsives doing their shopping in October (or are they just smart or scrimping, taking advantage of the end of October sales?). Christmas trees are put up early November after the days devoted to the dead and saints and Halloween, which is always an all too human transition: from the grave to the cradle. (Death cannot stay in our minds longer than bearable.) And the holidays do not end after Christmas but the day before the first working or school day. We double Germans and their Octoberfest easily.
I have willingly submitted myself to joining the Christmas parade. Even if the spirit has not really possessed me yet, I decided to start doing the many errands and responsibilities the season requires from us. First and easiest of all is Christmas shopping. I have been going to the malls the past two Sunday nights (Eastwood and Trinoma). I find it rather convenient: the shopping centers are open till 11, there are relatively fewer people (thus more parking) compared to weekdays and Saturdays, and I also try to make Sunday night a kind of pilgrimage of the self. I'd go out alone on Mondays before, but since there never seems to be an end to the work as of late, I thought I'd shift that to Sunday, when I usually just rested, read, or went out for a drink by my lonesome or with a friend to bless the week to come.
I also buy a Christmas CD or two every December. Last night, feeling twice as Christmassy as before, I purchased two, one OPM (for the car) and an English compilation (for the house). The local CD I played on the way home.
What I haven't done yet, but plan on doing so: buy Poinsettias. They always look beautiful in the garden or in the living room under the warm embrace of soft Christmas lights.
One lesson though: forcing yourself to feel something, like wanting to be happy, can really become expensive. But the way I see it the season gives me a reason, an excuse, to give. At least that's what I tell myself when I collate the receipts. So I've stopped doing that. Can't wait for Sunday to come. Hoping Shangrila or Power Plant also close late.
I've always been weakest during this season, though by sheer will and effort I've become better the past few year in confronting the sadness Christmas whispers with colder nights and undeserved gifts. Christmas is in our hearts, goes a song from my newly purchased album. The trouble is if you've a darkening heart. The problem is if there is silence in your soul. Darkness is the condition of the possibility, however, for the lights of the season to brightly shine like celestial stars in the night. Carols require that our hearts be still to hear the trumpets of heaven sing the gloria.
If you want Christmas, if you want happiness, nothing can prepare the manger for hope better than sad hearts which only wish that darkness end.