Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas is a time machine

When Christmas is all about family, how do you deal when the one you most love is not there? Well, I'll get there but let me first tell you how I was feeling this Christmas. I wasn't feeling Christmasy, that's what. I was sick. What is this nasty cough-and-colds bug going around??? Everyone except my never-sick Iñigo got it. I also had work plus the never-ending projects and requirements from my kids' school. So I just wasn't feeling it.

But sometime in the middle of December, it finally kicked in—my excitement for the season. I was still sick, the school was (and is actually still) sending homework, and my clients did not pay me at all (so no money huhu) but I didn't care. Christmas was here! Joy to the world! 'Tis the season to be jolly!

This should be my 2nd Christmas =)

I was telling Vince that mothers is what makes Christmas possible. Yep. Who makes the lists, shops for the gifts, wraps them beautifully, plans all the activities, decorates the house, puts up the tree, wakes everyone up for church (if you go), cooks and cooks and cooks, hosts the parties, collects all the money and gifts in her bag, and then posts the photos on Facebook? Mommies. Always mommies! Okay, Vince was the one who posted the photos on Facebook but only because I reminded him to do it haha.

So you see, if mothers decided to boycott Christmas, Christmas as we know it won't happen. And so you see, if you're like me and you don't have a mother anymore, Christmas can be a shock to the system, a yearly reminder that the woman who made this season so magical is no longer there.

Mama's garden was still in the making. She got busy making babies first! 

Christmas has always been Mama's season. She loved it! She put up the tree early. She wrapped all the gifts. We had fabulous holiday decor of felt and glitter and tinsel all over the house. We had different colored lights permanently installed on the soffits of our roof. We always went to ALL the parties and family reunions. And she loved the fruit cake, the fruit salad, that dessert that was a cake topped by gelatin with fruits suspended in it—she loved it all.

It was so funny when we became Born Again and somewhere along the way, we learned that Christmas is a pagan holiday because Jesus ought to have been born around the harvest and that falls around the end of September, but December 25 was decreed the date of Jesus's birth because people were already celebrating the birth of a pagan god and it was just easier for early evangelists to transition to that date. Etc etc. So basically, our then-pastor said, when we celebrate Christmas in December, we were actually worshipping a pagan god.

This was not okay with my mother. I think it was a crisis of faith haha. I remember her upset at the dining table talking about this with my father and Papa was, like, "To hell with facts!" (My papa was never a believer in facts haha). So finally she decided it's the thought that counts because we continued to celebrate Christmas anyway. And that was that.

Christmases at my aunt's QC home was a mandatory thing in those days.

Around the time I was in college, however, Mama decided she wasn't going to do Christmas anymore. I don't know why this happened. Maybe it's because her children were angsty, ungrateful teens. Maybe because by then we had absolutely no money. She told us there will be no tree, no decorations, no Noche Buena, nothing. She just didn't feel it. So we all agreed because we were teens and Christmas was for kiddies, right, but when that week of Christmas rolled around and nothing was happening, we all felt it. Where was Christmas?

We didn't have a tree anymore—for years!—but Mama still kept the vital Christmas traditions alive, which was church, family reunions, and gifts. She always gave gifts. Even when we didn't have money! I remember one Christmas her gift to me was she and my sister arranged all my photos (that had been in a box) in a cheap photo album. And I looked through that album and I was crying because it was such a wonderful gift. It was the gift of time that she gave me. She gave me her time arranging all those photos chronologically and she gave me a time machine because photos are always a trip down memory lane.

And that's all I have of her this Christmas and every Christmas. Photos and memories. Typical mother, she was almost always never in photos so I have very few photos of Mama at Christmas. The ones you see here, that's all I could find. I'm sure there are more. I remember vividly one photo of Mama in an Afro and electric blue eye shadow. Must have been a groovy Christmas!

Our last Christmas together and we didn't know it. The tree was Vince's gift because he thought my family should have one.

When Mama suddenly died in September 2008, we were seriously dreading Christmas. Like, WHAT NOW?! I didn't even want to go home and see that she wasn't there. But my sister Jacqui saved us all. She put up the tree because that's what Mama would've wanted. She said she was making fruit salad and asked what's our contribution.

And so we showed up, all of us except my older brother because it must've been still too painful for him. The tree from Vince was all lit up with Mama's pink decorations (so now you know why my tree is pink) and we ate and laughed and gave gifts and it was okay.

It was okay. We were going to be all right.

Our first Christmas without Mama.

And I know for people like me, people who no longer have mommies on Christmas, this season can be very difficult. We keep seeing who's no longer there. But for me, it's kinda nice. It's like a time machine. It's at Christmas I remember my Mama most. I remember Mama's excitement and singing and how she loved to eat and be with family. She was so happy at Christmas, wrapping gifts. She taught me how to wrap gifts and to make my scissors glide on that wrapping paper like a dream.  Most of the year, I'm too busy and brush aside memories of Mama. On Christmas, she comes back FULL FORCE.

I've learned to open up myself to these memories, to embrace the season, and to step into that time machine. Because New Year is coming up fast and then I will be swept away again by the urgency of small kids and work and marriage but on Christmas, amidst the whirl of it all, Mama comes back and I welcome her home.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear fellow orphan. We are so lucky to have been so loved. What a gift!

23 comments:

  1. You know how you burst out laughing when you read something funny? How about burst out crying? That's what your piece did to me, actually, do, because I'm still crying. My mom is on stage 4 cancer, bedridden, and slowly losing herself. At the moment I am arranging her transport back from a family reunion via ambulance. I know next Christmas will be different. Next Christmas I will be reading your post again and recognize your words at a deeper and profound level. Yet I know things will be ok. Just like you said. And I will realize it anew. So thank you because despite of the challenges that this year brought, losing 2 babies and later someone else inherent to my being, I know time will come when I will look back on all this, like you, and know that I will be ok. - megsky

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    1. Oh, Megsky... Please know my heart just broke reading this about your mother and your year. Death will always be painful, sad to say, yes, even years and years after. I hope you find strength and comfort to get through this. Prayed for you!

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  2. Happy New Year! I have also read some years back that Jesus was not born on Dec 25 but we still celebrate Christmas because it has become a tradition.

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  3. Somebody cut onions? Why was I crying? Makes me so grateful for my mother. WE'll be preparing our New Year's Eve dinner together later. Reading this makes me appreciate her so much more. Happy New Year!

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  4. We, mommies are always the "punong abala". But no matter how tiring it is, we still do it because we want everyone happy esp during Christmas season. That "time machine" is what keeps you going, Ms. Frances. Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories. Made us appreciate our moms more ❤

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  5. Sobrang nakaka-throwback talaga ang pasko. Teary-eyed din ako sa vlog kasi naalala ko din yung mga times na kumpleto at sama-sama kaming nagcecelebrate. At aobrang classic ng mga photos nuon madam!

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  6. Merry Christmas! Thank you for inspiring me/us with this. Thank yo for making me realize how lucky I am to celebrate Christmas w my mother. thank you.

    happy new year!!

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  7. Christmas will never be the same without someone who already passed away.. i can relate somehow bcoz my husband, his mom sudden passed away 2 yrs ago.. celebrating Christmas without her is less a happy moment though we have to move forward coz im sure if she was to watch us over, she would have to tell us that we should be happy..
    After a Year.. we just learned that even shes away.. we celebrate Christmas like she was still alive.

    Season of Christmas is within us, it is How we celebrate it.. we can be as Happy like Everyday is Christmas Day.

    Merry Christmas po.

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  8. Awww.. :( bigla akong nalungkot... Just the thought that all of us will get there someday just brings pain in my heart. I cannot imagine spending the Holidays without them.. :(

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  9. Happy New Year Miss Frances!! ❤️

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  10. My mom's still around but my parents have been missionaries to Mexico since 2005.I miss them especially during the holidays. Kulang ang chaos at ingay sa bahay. Memories tend to fade kaya as much as possible, I take loads of pictures with family whenever possible to make sure we have something to look back on when the time comes. Thank God for the gift of family. Hugs to you and the kids! Have a great holiday! :*

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  11. It was our father who loves Christmas. And we lost him too, last new year. Every year, he would make time to buy our presents and wrap them all with love even though he was too busy at work, and he continues to do so regardless of our age (contrary to my mom who gives us unwrapped presents because she's tired from work ��).

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    1. Your father sounds wonderful. HUGS to you!

      As for your mother, she sounds like me this year. I also didn't wrap the presents because I'm too tired! I just tied a red ribbon around everything!

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  12. Indeed Christmas really brings us back to the good old times... I miss my dad...

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  13. Happy Holidays ms Frances! Agree with you 100%, there would be no Christmas is aint for the mother of the house. That is why, even though Im a mom myself, I make it a point that we spend our holidays at my parents house so as not to miss my mom's holiday spread, kahit same lang every year. I do different holiday tradition naman for the kids aside from this :)

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  14. Your Christmas story about your Mama is so touching. Full of love and great memories.

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  15. Ang dami ko tin magandang memories tuwing pasko at bagong taon pero nung namatay nanay ko nung sep 2006 parang naglaho rin lahat sa akin ang tagal ng healing process ko dumating pa sa point na lumayas ako bahay para hindi ko sya maalala pero now na may anak na ako sinisikap ko bigyan ng katulad ng binigay na memories sa akon ng aking nanay kahit till now sad tuwing maalala ko sya iisipin ko na lang na masaya sya para sa akin dahil hindi ko sya nakakalimutan.

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  16. Merry christmas and Happu new year momshie more blessings to come

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  17. You may have gotten older but you have become more beautiful through the years. I love reading your blog. It inspires me to be more positive in life.

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  18. I am crying tons of tears right now. �� Being an orphan, Celebrating Christmas makes me melancholic . But then learning that Jesus is the reason for the season, this gives pure joy in my heart.

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  19. Oh Ms. Frances... this entry made me cry. Missed my Mom & Dad so much. This is our 3rd Christmas without Mom and our 1st without Dad. Christmas and New Year will never be the same again. But we are thankful for all the memories they left us. I know we will get to build new memories again with our family but the pain of not having them around will always linger. - Chelle

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  20. I am crying right now while reading these. The Christmas are known as the “Most Wonderful Time of Year” but for some it can be a sad and lonely time… ... Remembering family At Christmas and miss them.

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