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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Christmas "Miserabilia"

Christmas is over. Finally!

Why the cynicism, you’d ask. Have I just become the Grinch-reincarnate?

True, I wasn’t always like this. Just like all of you, Christmas once meant a whole lot of fun for me. It was even more than your normal Christmases, because for our family, the occasion always meant double fun. December 25 was also my father’s birthday.

Being a capitalized, boldly-written, red-letter day, there was no excuse for us to let it pass with a mere whimper. Friends and relatives know the event by heart, and they just come by in droves to greet and celebrate. Even when my Father was gravely sick, town-mates who were in vacation in Manila would still come and pay their respects. Regardless of the prevailing sentiments, it was still a moment for happiness.

Things changed when my father died. The celebration started to turn somber. The peremptory merrymaking remained but the gatherings simply veered towards nostalgia. If there were pockets of jubilation, these were merely in celebration of a few family victories and successes. I was convinced though that it was just a phase. Time heals.

Or so I thought. Wrongly. Because then came 2001.

Fate played a fatal trick that caused my stocks to tumble. The pedestal cracked and crumbled. I came home for Christmas with torn wings, frayed from a nose dive after flying the flight of the victor. Life struck a crushing blow that I thought sapped all will out of me. It was just my own fall, yes, but the family commiserated. And the Christmas gatherings never became the same again. For despite how everyone else had to move on and join the mood of the season, there was always this vanquished, anguished soul sulking at the corner, who would rather spend the entire day in deep slumber.

Six Christmases so far. And I hope the counting stops. Now!

For all of these six Christmas seasons, I was Mr. Miserable. Much as I tried, there was just no stopping my self-pity. More so when people around me seemed so unabashedly joyful. Adding to the pain is when these embarrassingly happy people force me to join their gaiety. Yes, some people compel others to be happy because they are outrageously so. I could see that the intention is noble (for me to be oblivious of my pain even only for a while) but imagine engaging the victims of the Bicol floods in a party just so they may forget. My pain surely pales in comparison to theirs, but the insensitivity is parallel.

I now keep a potpourri of notes, thoughts and other memorabilia of my past six Christmases. That I call my miserabilia. It’s there to inspire me that one day, they’d all get burned and be blown by the strongest of winds, leaving nary a trace.

This year’s Christmas leaves me at a crossroad, where I anxiously wait for better things to unfold. For the first time, I sit on a hopeful tone – for my life to finally have a complete turn-around.

But the pessimist in me prevails still. Things being out of my control, I can’t help it when the hope at times still turns to worry. So regardless of the efforts I exert, the bleak atmosphere remained. Ah, hopeless me.

Allow me to clarify though. Having seen how other peoples’ lives have been wrecked by human and divine catastrophes in recent months, I admit my self-indulgence could indeed be overblown. Friends tell me I’m still lucky compared to the rest of this plague-stricken world, as my problems aren’t as big.

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