A Christmas Lantern | Photo Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media
The other day I finished my final chores for the fall season. I made sure it was done before it got too cold for any more yard work. The stalks that were once beautiful flowering plants lay in waste, stiff and dry on the ground. Everything in my garden has gone to sleep, and all seem to lay still in the cold soil. The snow will soon drape the landscape, and everything underneath the chilly earth will go into a long winter slumber. Summer and fall have a different life of their own, and the lively occupants of the green fields and lush summer gardens have already gone or have burrowed under the earth. An entirely different cast is born to enact the drama of the changing season. The winter birds are settling home, and nocturnal critters are foraging for food.
“Now when I think of Christmas, I imagine Christmas carols drifting in the air on a snowy night, brightly lit Christmas tree glimmering through window drapes, scarlet red and light yellow Poinsettias sprouting in the living room, stockings hanging on a mantle, …”
In this hemisphere, Christmas is celebrated during this gloomy season of the year. We try and subdue the gloom and the looming darkness with bright, colorful Christmas lights and decorations, transforming the winter landscape into a solemn winter wonderland. Now when I think of Christmas, I imagine Christmas carols drifting in the air on a snowy night, brightly lit Christmas tree glimmering through window drapes, scarlet red and light yellow Poinsettias sprouting in the living room, stockings hanging on a mantle, gifts piling under the gleaming tree, and stuffing myself with cookies and hot chocolates on a chilly day. We keep our house warm with a fire in the fireplace or heat from the furnace, but most of all with the warmth of giving and sharing the Christmas spirit. This is how I have spent Christmas in the last three decades.
For me the balmy Christmas of the tropics is a thing of the past. It seems a world apart from the way I knew Christmas back then: a life so simple and yet filled with fun and lively spirit. I remember going Christmas caroling with my friends and walking door to door for loose change.
We built Christmas lanterns from scratch by shaving bamboo splints to make a star lantern and drape it with colorful crepe or cellophane paper. To brighten the night we lit the lantern with glowing and blinking Christmas lights. We cut down wild bush, and after debarking, we pasted the branches with cotton balls for snow. We hung ornaments and colorful lights for finishing touches to our Christmas tree. For Christmas cards, we made tiny collages with Christmas motif from magazine cutouts, paste them on white linen paper, and compose our own Christmas greetings. We bought the cloth for pair of pants and polo shirts and have the local tailor cut and sew our Christmas attire.
“Christmas may be a world apart from what is now and then, but what remains is the meaning of Christmas. It is the birth of hope, the season of giving and receiving and opening our hearts to the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.”
It was a different time, before malls and Internet shopping became in vogue. The Christmas spirit is easy to come by when you do things with so much thought, and make do with so little, and create beautiful things out of simple materials, and put all your heart in giving.
Christmas may be a world apart from what is now and then, but what remains is the meaning of Christmas. It is the birth of hope, the season of giving and receiving and opening our hearts to the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.