Saturday, December 22, 2007

Perished Poinsettias, Dying Holidays

(Or was it only me who’s in the horrid mood? A holiday survey showed that there is slight increase in people- across all socioeconomic classes-, compared to the previous year perceiving that their respective Christmases will not be spoiled by Scrooges.)

Last year my boss called me to pick up several potted poinsettias to make livid a seemingly lackluster office that’s being run by a non-disciple of the school of embellishment. Those poinsettias whose lush bracts were flaming red decadently lost their beauty until what are left of them are the desiccated stems and the cracked soil; the vestiges of a past, ephemeral celebration of Christmas. The Christmas shrubs were easily forgotten as soon as the season ended, that was after Epiphany, but I guess it ended much earlier than that. Their beauty actually lost charisma right after the office party last year. Right after the office party, the potted poinsettias lie there at the veranda together with immensely accumulated rubbish. The potted poinsettias are dead by now, so I guess. They’re gone. Their flaming red bracts dwindled fast post-Christmas like blossom petals torn apart by a demented beau seeking instant answers on love. In reality, they were feasted upon by hungry worms.

Or just, it is an all-wise scheme of shadowing the gripes of the worst experiences and painful realizations in life. In pure attempt of ratiocination, I tried to gather as much information to understand a festive and supposedly jovial mood that is required of Christmas and Christmas per se and this is what I found.

Christmas developed from paganism. Early Europeans celebrate during winter solstice to alleviate their longing for longer days and extended hours of sunlight. They slaughter as much cattle which they can’t feed and have oversupply of fresh meat at the end of the day. The Norse does it by burning large logs and feast until the fire die down with the belief that each spark created represents a pig or a calf that would be born the next year. The Christians adopted this tradition and approximated that Christ was probably born at such point although many skeptics believe that He was probably born early in spring because shepherding could not be possible during winter. And so it is believed that the birth of Christ is probably between the months March and April. Traditionally, Christmas has been celebrated every December 25th.

In the early 17th century, the celebration of Christmas was changed in Europe because of major religious reforms. The Church particularly was said to be the cause of the decadence in its celebration because it allowed varied ways of celebrating it. For instance, the existence of such “lords of misrule” (mostly beggars) leads to pandemonium when they terrorize members of the upperclass who fail to give them the best food and drink upon demand. Christmas was cancelled by the Puritans when they took England because of this. It was only restored during the time of Charles II by popular demand.

Because of the entry of religion particularly Christianity, values were infused in the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas upshot came to the extent of pacifying the mood in 1914 when German and British troops declared a truce among themselves on the dawn of Christmas day. In the Philippines, the first Christmas mass was celebrated in Pangasinan by an Italian monk at around 1280 to 1320. The Italians back then planted the first Christmas tree. Experiences of Christmas during the Early Hispanic period is not that quite documented, so I guess again. An article of Ambeth Ocampo details the experience of an American woman during her first Christmas in the Philippines. Although quite ordinary as I see, the account was rather an outline extant of local tradition and only vibrates the festive mood of the expatriates who brought with them nostalgia of homegrown tradition. How about the Indios?

Hah. Well, it came late to my senses that it is already 9 o’clock in the evening and I’m still here at the office alone typing on the keyboard, having occasional goosebumps. I haven’t bought gifts yet maybe will join the rush tomorrow. Looking back, the past eleven months were quite easy on the way to look at because they’re shredded and still here in the box right at my corner. But, realistically, they’ve been a truckload of yoke I don’t want to commit to memory. Early in the week, I came upon this article by Fallows, the parachute journalist who got a bird’s eye view of the country with a damaged culture. He was writing post-EDSA and from there assessed the renewed vigor of democracy which mirrored hopes for social change and progress. My initial reaction was: “I want slit this vein and die!” because, in my opinion, the essay taken as a whole was bitterly true. It was written in 1987, but I was like reading fresh from the page of the daily I bought from the newsstand on that day.

Last December while walking down Session Road I nearly collided with a young girl whose begging late in the night from penny-pinching passers-by. She gave out a smile and wished me a Merry Christmas. I asked her to go with me inside the store where we nearly banged but she was reluctant and said that she will wait outside instead. She watched and leaned on the glass wall while I buy the box of Donuts for her. I remember her while I hand a 20-peso bill to a bunch of kids who sang carols for us in the office late in the night. I remember that experience when I witnessed this person yelling at a mendicant who’s asking for a peso or two. I can’t find the wisdom of help in its truest sense when you refuse to give the monetized value of a minute of your labor and adding insult to the injury by telling the poor person that she/he must work rather than beg. I can’t find the wisdom in rebuking street charity and all in all vilifying the dignity of a beggar whose suffering is overwhelmingly cruel than yours.

I realize as I write these thoughts that Christmas celebrated since childhood by me was unutterably unhappy. And it grows unhappier through the passing of years. Nonetheless, when the season strikes, I try to pretend to be jolly and all but never being pretentious in living its spirit even just for a week or so. Even just for a week or so, other people should be the Ebenezer Scrooge depicted at the last stave.

Finally, I want to tell the world that I’d be finally quitting my job for God’s sake, I mean for school’s sake. My job for three years in an NGO had been full of learnings and realizations but time has come when you just have had enough of bleak and false realities haha but I’m happy to enter a new industry which has grown promising for me so opined by a good friend who’s based in Shanghai, CN.

10 comments:

pusa said...

guess we're feeling the same but still im wishing you a merry christmas from the bottom of meow heart. mwahhhh

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Ann said...

I'm finding more and more of us whose Christmases weren't all that happy.

The history bit reminds me of an episode of the Boondocks where they basically pointed out what you wrote.

Ang sweet nung ginawa mo para sa girl. I'm starting to harden na sa beggars..salamat sa wake up call. Kasi naman, every time I give to someone..laging may naglelecture sa kin na scam lang yun, or some other reason that makes me feel stupid for giving to others.

I'm not gonna read the article you linked just yet. I'm clinging to whatever holiday cheer I have left.

And I'm an optimist naman e. Hindi pa tapos ang holiday season, may opportunity pang maging masaya. :)

reyna elena said...

off topic: just wishing you a very happy new year! i love that piano btw, am a new age fan!!!

pusa said...

long time no hear from you, hope your're doing ok. may this new year adorn your life with many beautiful things and sweet memories to cherish forever. Wishing you life’s best this 2008!

mschumey07 said...

Let's just all do our share, that's what I always tell myself. I share your sentiments but I'm the kind of person who may have a lot of questions but at the end of the day still do what my heart tells me to do, give help to whoever needs it.

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