A Different Christmas

Someone once said that Christmas is like a magnifying glass; it amplifies what we lack. If we were to apply this to Christmas in 2020, then I’m sure that the biggest magnifying glass in the world could not possibly be enough to measure what we all had to go through this December.

So if you’re reading this, first off, congratulations. You’ve made it past December 25th!

By now, you’ve probably experienced your own fair share of adjustments, inconveniences, and even heartaches this holiday season. 

Like the terrifying crowds and lines at the malls when the online shops did not have what was on your shopping list.

Or the worry that the items you ordered online as gifts would not arrive in time for Christmas. 

Or the back-and-forth conversations between relatives and friends to ask if it would still be okay with everyone if we were to meet up and when each of them were free and where would be a safe place to dine in if it pushed through or if we should all just give up and do Zoom instead.

Then there were the heartbreaking stories. How someone could no longer make it to Christmas dinner with the family because they fell sick just days before Christmas. Or how others could not even come home to Manila this year due to complications that arose from the pandemic.

My story was no different. I had, in one way or another, experienced all of these.

I remember how, in past Christmas Eve celebrations, my big family would all stay up until midnight so that we could greet each other a “Merry Christmas!” once the clock struck twelve. But those of us who were left this year (some decided not to come due to complications) no longer found ourselves waiting for Christmas Day. Some family members decided to turn in for the night right after dinner, while others left minutes before twelve in order to beat curfew.

All this to say—this year was truly a different Christmas for all of us.

As usual, I spent the last couple of days reflecting on what I had to endure this month in light of the holidays. The phone calls with friends who were facing their own set of transitions and preparations. The big and small questions I carried in my heart with the new things that came just this month.

And I discovered, during this time, that Christmas always touched every part of my life—my relationships, finances, worries, activities, insecurities, past aches, memories, emotions, and traditions.

Because of this, I came into December with such low expectations for this year’s Christmas.

I had this “ok let’s get this over with” mentality as the days drew closer and closer to the holidays. And a big part of that was because I was afraid to be disappointed, to be let down, once again, by the things I could not control in my life.

But despite this Christmas being different, I was reminded of a few simple truths that stayed the same:

That if Christmas was about the parties and reunions, then this year would have proved to be a huge disappointment.

If Christmas was about the gifts and shopping, then this year would have been a health risk and inconvenience.

If Christmas was about family and traditions, then this year would have definitely not made it to the “Top 5.”

If Christmas was a magnifying glass that culminated anything and everything that we have lost this year, then no festivity, gift, or relationship, could ever make up for it. It would have been a lost Christmas.

But thankfully, at the heart of it, Christmas was never about what humanity had lost but what we, undeserving as we are, gained: God with us. Immanuel.

And if this were to be the only thing that I gained this Christmas, then it would have been a great gain indeed.

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