25.12.06; Scrooge Sentiments; 17:49

New near-death experience: Brisk walking my way to Talaba in sheer hope to make it on time when a 5-star exploded few meters away from my leg foot. New year’s resolution: 1.) Give up my old fantasy guy. 2.) Cease using colognes/perfumes for men. "You can appreciate men’s perfume. But you don’t have to use them!" – Ina. 3.) Be more vain, fer gawd’s sake!

Dear Niwee,

What’s with Christmas that we all have to gather and celebrate? That offices have to temporarily close operations in observance of it? That the entire planet continues to rejoice about it over the years in spite of the fact that suicide rates increase during the holidays and recent years witnessed people being too financially challenged to keep up? Christmas, I dare say, is just for kids and marketing moguls.

I am neither of the two but I have an archive of experiences I painfully revisited to put my message across. I can’t recall when I officially hated this overrated season but, as a kid, I remember being led to believe in a.) Santa Claus which was downright silly since we have no chimneys here in the Philippines; b.) that Jesus Christ comes down to earth to join us which I found unrealistic for a birthday celebrant NOT to reveal oneself to the ovejoyed masses; and c.) we, kids, have the liberty to ask godparents and random elders from neighboring baranggays for some bills we can eventually use to buy our desired items which, to my deduction, is an euphenism for begging and milder version of Trick or Treat. 

I remember waking up one Christmas morning, sighing over the limited variety of songs on the radio, being nagged at to snap out of my trance, bathe and commence the annual trudge to generate funds. Considering I belong to a gypsy family and I found smiling and greeting a difficult task, I was the least popular and charming in our group. As a result, I consistently got the least amount. Unlike my childhood buddies, I didn’t get that excited to count how much I earned and to splurge it immediately in the nearest mall. Maybe because I had no clear set of wants or my money gets stashed in a piggy bank or my mom uses it for something else. I found this role reversal with my mom tiring and fruitless.

Imagine my relief when I turned 14. I argued with mom I’m too old and tall to ask for pamasko and reminded her of the disapproving looks I received when I showed up in my pediatrician’s clinic. But as the eldest, I was forced to escort my brothers. This time, I still get cash, less than what my brothers acquire of course, but I became an open target for stupid questions like suitors and stuff. Little did I know that it gets worse every year.

Staying at home was not merry either; it equates to interacting with relatives who all claim they took care of me when I was little and giving up Nintendo time for our less priviledged cousins. Or someone who grew up next to our relatives who happens to have his/her own child and nephews and whatever. I was quick to question their concept of togetherness since I never saw them hang around when we get hospitalized or cheer us on when we compete or get recognition in school. I resented spending time with them since we had nothing to talk about and every year was an incessant guessing game of names and faces.

Truth be told, I hated these family gatherings since my poor memory can only offer images of parasitism, stupidity, molestation and alienation. Now you know why I feel I was born to a lesser family. It truly is sad that we all get the freedom to choose everything -what course to take in college, who to marry, who to vote- after we get stripped of the opportunity to choose our family. 

If my childhood were full of angst, how could you expect my grown up self to enjoy Christmas? I am still in consternation what the big fuss is all about. Is it the opportunity to experience comestible treats on the table? Forgive me but I am too indulgent to wait for Christmas. Or the anticipated moment to be surrounded by own family? Sorry, but I’d been passing up every chance there is whole year round. Is it the exchanging of gifts, the practice of sharing? Not for me, either. As far as I am concerned, I can’t afford to give out gifts since I feel too "deprived". I only buy presents for myself, my 2 godchildren since it is customary "not to break the children’s spirit" or to "preserve their innocence" and my brothers, which, to my estimation, is an indirect way of educating my folks what today’s generation really needs/wants. Include the people I agree to kris kringle with. I can imagine your raised eyebrows – now what the hell is this Scrooge thinking, observing Christmas traditions like kris kringle? Maybe it’s my way of upholding my cheerful exterior or my way of not letting outsiders know what I truly feel about Christmas. It’s not about the sharing. It’s about the humor, the impossible task of keeping things under my hat and the superficial rush we feel when we open the final gift – that expectation that it should be what we indicated in our wishlist. Which explains my refusal to learn the useless art of wrapping gifts.

As I get older, I always felt compelled to achieve sexual gratification around this time of the year. Must be the climate, must be the idle moments, must be the loneliness, must be the hormones or the combination of all these. I have nothing scientific to offer here. But the desire to feel equally burning skin, hungry toungue/s and/or a hard, throbbing appendage against my body has been consistently intense and incurable. Obviously, I’m not getting any in spite of the fact that I personify a pregnant dinosaur and sound like an overzealous porn star.

In a nutshell, I hate the fact that my strength expires by the time this shitty season rolls around. It frustrates me that I effortlessly try to be a reliable friend all year yet I can’t expect for their company when I need them the most by Christmas. I can’t demand since family always comes first and poor saps like me have to cease being a prodigal daughter to become a Hallmark kid. (peram, Alistair). I hate it that I cater to everyone’s needs all year then realize by Christmas time I haven’t thought of myself, haven’t met goals I set for myself or haven’t enjoyed my own company enough. This is something that no amount of cramming can repair. Also, the conviction that I am meant for greater things but a happy relationship and it’s OK wears off. I would despair upon spotting saccharine couples and wonder what to give up to be waltzed under the mistletoe. During the season of hope, as they call it, I all the more hope to be loved for who I am and who I aim to be. I hate it that no matter what I do to infect everyone with my misery and bitterness, Christmas will never become obsolete. No matter how broke we are, most people would still insist to stop and celebrate it.

This year, I was glad to achieve long hours of snooze and a good bawl. It was sad to have nobody around for a reassuring hug but that only reinforces the truth that we only have ourselves in the end. No point for togetherness crap or post-coital vows and caresses since we are all alone. At 24, I must be doing great. I look forward to that Christmas day I’ll be too numb to repeat this scenario and be too occupied to entertain these sentiments again.