After almost 50 years of not spending Christmas in my hometown in the Philippines, I spent Christmas there in 2011 – savoring the memories of my younger days when life was simpler, surrounded by family and familiar faces of neighbors and townspeople.
Bob and I brought some of our Christmas traditions with us. A pre-lit Christmas tree surrounded by gifts for family and friends. My niece Sally did the decorating and enjoyed the delight of gift wrapping. As I watched her, I saw myself as a thrilled much younger person who loved the richness of a different tradition, caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season.
I looked out the window toward my brother Amel’s house and reflected on him, sadly he passed away almost two years ago. His image sits where I remember him – smiling and waving at everyone passing by. His lovely voice singing the Filipino love songs and our duets, the carols of Christmas that he sings so heartily. I
see him making the parols of every size and color. I know in my heart that he is watching me as I look out my window.
Looking beyond, the church is magnificent – the lighted cross on top of the La Torre beckoning its people in their journey back home. We know that the church is not merely a historical structure, for us it is the center of our lives, regardless of religion. The heart beat is felt in the global community of its parishioners and citizenry. When crisis strikes, the citizens respond in the speed of light. That is how my hometown is – caring, generous and embedded in the roots of the church and the accacia trees.
Bob and I attended the “Simbang Gabi,” daily masses from four in the morning, nine days before Christmas. I looked around and was amazed how breathtaking the church was, but was struck at the many faces I did not recognize. As we say in marketing, the demographics did change! The music was as I remembered, beautiful, though sang by different voices from a much younger chorale.
I am glad to have been given the gift of time to once more be ‘at home’ in my parent’s home that I was fortunate to call my home, surrounded by family pictures that I collected to decorate the walls – as reminders of how my parents look like and how my siblings and I remain connected, far and near.
My nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and neighbors who shared the wondrous memories deserve to be thanked for their presence made thisgift of time extra special. As Bob Hope would say, “Thanks for the memories.”
Posted by villager4ever
March 14, 2012