As I entered the mall yesterday, I was reminded “Ber months” na naman pala. You now hear Christmas carols played all-over the mall. If I would refer back to the church calendar, Christmas celebration or the preparation for Christmas starts with Advent which will be on November 27 this year. And across the world, it is only in the Philippines that September 1 becomes the “official” start of Christmas season.
Why this early? Who made it official?
You will get no argument with me, even if Christmas is celebrated the whole year round, i.e., if the real essence of Christmas is the reason for the celebration – the spirit of giving, the spirit of loving. Sadly, it may be the consequence of the action of some but for most, it is not the primary reason for this celebration’s early start. As I view it, the early celebration was the result of marketing and commercialism. If you will notice, every month is now given a label – “month for so and so” and “month for that …”. We used to have only 4 countrywide celebrations: Christmas, which extends to New Year; Valentine’s Day, Graduation and Halloween. But today, aside from these usual celebrations, we now have “Mother’s Day”, “Father’s Day”, “Grandparents’ Day”, “Teacher’s Day”, etc. What else? Probably, next they will come up with “Pet’s Day”, or is it already declared and practiced?
There is nothing wrong with honoring the people who are important to us. In fact, it is a very noble act. What is not though, is the commercialization of the action of honoring. When Christmas is more experienced because of the various “SALE” and parties to attend to, rather than the deeper meaning of being able to give a part of ourselves. Another product also take this month of September as a starting period for “Oktober-Fest”, a “commercially-created” festivity of seemingly unlimited drinking and partying that is supposedly intended for October as its name implies, but starts a month earlier. These festivities and celebrations are so varied and many that they are only limited by the imagination and creativity of the advertisers – these are what the world is offering us.
Each of these activities only encourage us to indulge, to buy, to spend our hard-earned money. Gone are the days, when gifts are made by hand – with love. Most of everything now is purchased, wrapped and given. Everything is instant. Even messages are “templated”; the absence of the personal touch now replaced by the “beauty” of commercialism.
Yesterday, Christmas was far from my mind as I marked September 1 as the start of our 54-day journey of prayer. Remembering that September is Mama Mary’s birth month and October is the Holy Rosary month – offering her our “bouquet of prayers”and asking her intercession for our general and specific intentions: for the protection of the family and the sanctity of marriage; for the protection of life – both human and this world’s; for enlightenment and peace of heart brought about by contentment and the spirit of sharing and giving – the essence of a real Christmas.
What the world offers are just mere distractions, billboards along the road as we journey towards HOME. Personally, I welcome them as personal reminders that every month, a special person is to be given honor, and so we give them honor not with what this world has to offer, but with love, with care and prayers. We are again reminded that this Christmas, what is important is the company of family and the happiness and joy that spring from it are shared with those who have none – Yeng Constantino’s “Pasko sa Pinas” says it:
Ang kaligayahan nati’y walang kupas
Di alintana kung walang pera
Basta’t tayo’y magkakasama
Ibang-ibang talaga ang pasko sa Pinas
The world only showed us the Christmas season as a reason for uncontrolled spending, an opportunity to profit. But as Christians, we are reminded of the two Christmases of our lives, when God made true His promise in John 3:16 – a Christmas when the Lord Jesus came to live with humankind, and a Christmas when He vanquished death and sin in Easter. As “a child of Easter morn”, I will always be reminded of these Christmases as I journey through life.
I’ve read from one FB post among many that clutter my news feed on the importance of the Holy Communion (I’m not sure if it was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who said it), but adopting it, may I be reminded to live each day as if it is my first day, my last day and my only day to do my act of charity. It is for me the real essence of a daily Christmas celebration of joy!
To end, this timeless song from long ago by another legend will clearly remind us of our reason for being:
I’ll give my hand, I’ll sing my song,
I’ll share my faith, because I know,
That the time is now to fulfill each vow,
For I may never pass this way again!
May your day be blessed that you may be a blessing to others.