Acts of Christmas

We blame the lack of Christmas spirit on many things. The typical excuses include “I’m getting old,” “it’s so commercialized and consumer driven” or “my family just sucks.” Personally, I’ve always felt neutral about the holidays, mostly because my family is quite simple about it. Aside from the amazing dinner and delicious noche buena, there’s nothing extravagant about our traditions or gifts. My excuse, then, would be “same old, same old.”

This year the Facundo’s spent Christmas the way we usually do, chilling together under one roof. But I was moved by the Christmas spirit, not because of tradition, but of the genuine generosity from people who are not close friends and family. Acts of sincerity vary depending on their relation to you. In this case, distance makes the heart grow fonder to the kindness that almost strangers can give you. It’s the spirit that the so-called Christmas spirit gets its name from. Let me share with you four “acts of Christmas” that I felt this season.

This December I’ve been getting a couple of emails from Coffee Bean that someone left a drink for me at their shop. Since I’m a regular coffee drinker and a sucker for coffee shops, this could easily win pogi points from a potential suitor. While this could have been a great “move,” I knew it was just a marketing strategy. In matters of love and business, there’s always a catch, at least in the beginning when you’re trying to grab someone’s attention. By posting these sentiments as a Facebook status, I actually did.

Before break began I found out that Tim, one of my kababayans from ASLA (we’re both horrible at tagalog), left 2 gift certificates for me in the org room. When I asked him about it, he said that aside from seeing my status, the last time he ran into me I looked stressed, so he thought this would cheer me up. We’re not super close, but we talk from time to time.  So you can imagine why I was blown away by his thoughtfulness.

The second act is from Jen, my 19-year old orgmate who I’ve gotten closer to in the last couple of months. She picked my name for our Kris Kringle. The rules are to list 5 gifts that you would like to receive and your secret santa is only supposed to get you one. Even though she didn’t have to, she got me almost everything and as you can see from the picture above, I was surprised!  She’s not exactly a stranger, but she’s also a random friend I have heart-felt conversations with from time to time. I’m not a person who expects much from gifts but this was one of the most meaningful ones I’ve received in awhile, especially from a friendship that’s only a couple of months old.

Christmas isn’t complete without visiting my good friend from high school, Chris Capinpin, who passed away when we were freshmen in college. His birthday is on Christmas and I make it a point to see him every year. Its been three years since he left, and his presence is no longer as strong as it used to be.   But just because you can’t see someone anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t be good to them, even after they’re gone.

This Christmas the Sendong floods ruined the holidays for the people of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan. There are more than a thousand casualties from the people who have died to those who have to spend Christmas in shelters. It’s heartbreaking to see the pictures and to hear the stories of devastation. I wasn’t able to volunteer in the relief operations, but I managed to compile two big bags to donate to a fellow ASLAN whose house got ruined in the floods. Aside from Ondoy,  this is the first time I acted upon my conscience telling me to do something, anything, to help strangers who are far away from my home.

It’s true what Conan O’ Brien said during his commencement address in Dartmouth University. “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” I’m neither a hard-core Catholic or atheist, but my faith is rooted in kindness. Thank you to people like these who make it easy to believe.

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