Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Season's Happy and Not so Happy Thoughts

Who loves stress? Well, sometimes I do, but Christmas Stress has a different brand to it. It's another world of stress. Unlike office deadlines, cramming and crunch times, Christmas Stress exists the entire season, 2 months the most. Aside from time and expected effort, money, interactions and psychological fits add up to it, which make this season oh-so special.

I'm not being negative. I'm just being observant. Sometimes I know it's Christmas not because of the lights, decorations and annoyingly cheerio music, but because of these happy and not-so-happy things.


There are happy moments that only Christmas could bring. One would be friend lunch-outs and dinners. During Christmas, someone in your particular group plans a tete-a-tete. This is practically the best time to catch-up when you've summed up on what you have been doing for the entire year. At least, you have lots of things to talk about. This is the season wherein people are happy to see familiar faces that emanate the love for friends. The get-togethers are also perfect instances to exchange gifts because for some reason, people will be FREE from their schedules and stop making lame excuses. People are more concentrated on searching and nurturing the love and connection that's why schedules can or should be able to accommodate. You might be working in just a building away from your high school friend, but you never get the chance to see each other because you're both busy doing your own stuff the entire year. It's a waste of time to meet up with no important occasion. But in Christmas, there's the spirit to pool the comforting friends because the season is an occasion in itself. It's always a best way to catch up and end a busy year.

Also, I've never met anyone that hates food. We may love different types of food at different quantities, but regardless of whatever food we want to eat, it nurtures us and gives us comfort. Christmas makes eating more accessible, more frequent and for me, more pleasant. Food establishments develop promo gimmicks that cater to Christmas. Flavors, we are not accustomed to have the entire year, are easily offered by restaurants. Since people are in a festive mood and supposedly more financially empowered situation, budget constraints in food are loosened. From family get-togethers, friendly dinners, dates and office parties, eating becomes frequent. November to December weekends are sometimes not enough to accept food invitations. Even stomach space gives up sometimes. And I don't know about you, but eating for me is more delightful during this season. Food has become more festive, and for me, yummier. Different ingredients, dishes and concoctions just effortlessly burst. There's always something new to try; and of course we revert to most loved traditional dishes that our relatives only find time to cook during the season. Christmas is all about succulent meats like lechon, wonderful cakes, desserts, gourmet seafood dishes, pastas, pancit, barbeque and KFC take-outs. Sigh. Christmas gives us license to eat food that we don't normally eat the whole year (with quantity too!). Sharing it with loved ones is even better.

Another happy moment for me is actually reflecting the end of the year with a solemn purpose. To close the year is always a mighty feeling for me. To know that I'm still alive and to recount all the blessings we have all experienced are yearend solemn activities. This is the perfect time to look back on what we have done and achieved so far. It also makes people more generous and kind. Since Christmas puts people in high spirits, we constantly nurture love and find immaterial things more valuable, so favors are usually easier to course through. There is no better season than this to forgive and love someone.


One of the things that I really don't look forward to involves unnecessary stress due to financial turmoil. Expenses. Money. Resources. Moolah. Sure, when we work we have bonuses and such, but there's a reason why they give it on Christmas. It's there for us to spend and be painfully generous.

I have a friend who has 20 or so godchildren. He never fails to give them something. I have friends who give extraordinary gifts to friends and families that go beyond rationality and leaving them bankrupt. I know a friend who instantly forgets there's a bill that comes after swiping that credit card. I have friends who travel constantly during this season and spend for expensive gifts just because the commercially-infused season calls for it. We spend for groceries, be extra generous with relatives to the point of being financially bankrupt, which we deny and ignore this season. A certain Filipino mentality helps us get through, that money is just money. It's something that we can always earn because giving gifts, spending for succulent parties, and bringing pleasure to someone are priceless. So swipe it. Withdraw those moolahs and try not to think about it.

Two days ago, I easily purchased two international and one domestic trips as Christmas gifts for my family. I was brave because the airline seats were on sale, but nevertheless quite steep for my situation. I decided to give them these because it's something that I KNOW they would really appreciate. I also took advantage of the ticket sales and the mere joy of NOT going from one place to another searching for Christmas gifts. All I needed were full blast internet and my holy plastic. Easily my credit card bled as I am now down with credit. But I can just be happy for them, it beats the feeling of crying and worrying at night, which I find myself doing sometimes. But this is just on a personal note.

Aside from financial stress, Christmas get-togethers with friends and family could be a nuisance most especially if you do not want to go. There are groups of friends you practically share nothing in common with anymore, but the dinners become mandatory. It sucks. You pay for dinner that you don't enjoy, but then again, it's mandatory. More so in family occasions, eccentric to awkward, you'd have to attend. These things can easily wipe anyone out.

Christmas shopping and decorating come in third. Making that shopping list and actually doing something about is stressful. You have to shop around and search like what millions of people do in malls. But if you're on a certain budget, you have to tread the busy and hot streets of Divisioria just to look for gifts and affordable Christmas decors. Getting those trees and accessories from dusty closets always gives me allergies. The labor, christmas wrapping and beating the rush are worse than an intense workout.

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