December 15, 2007

Loveless on Christmas?

Something Like Life
Dec. 14, 2007

YOU have just renewed your membership to SMAP (Samahan ng Malalamig ang Pasko). Every time you hear the song “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” played on the radio, you want to go out and shoot your neighbor’s dog. Okay, so you don’t have a boyfriend this Christmas. What are you going to do, short of hiring your gardener’s macho dancer-son as your boyfriend to present to the relatives for the Christmas Day reunion?

Well, first of all, make sure you pay him at least a thousand bucks. Just kidding!

I know a number of people who have husbands, boyfriends, or family who still don’t feel the Christmas spirit at all despite the grand day being just 11 days away. (A friend’s status on his Facebook profile reads “Holidying”.) So I can just imagine what it must feel like when one is all alone with no one to share a special romantic gift over the holidays. It is true that this is the time of the year when suicide rates spike up as people either don’t have money or don’t have loved ones to turn to. If you let the Christmas blues get to you, you will likely feel empty, wretched and miserable.

I, for one, have always been thankful that, despite some years when I have to cough up my membership dues to SMAP, I still have my family around me. It will be a bit different this year, primarily because my father had just passed away, but I know we will all pull together to make Christmas still meaningful despite his absence. Having kids around helps as their wide-eyed innocence and belief in some bearded fat man in a red suit bringing them gifts just makes us work harder to make the holidays extra-special.

There is no reason, however, to feel lonely on Christmas just because Prince Charming seems to have lost his way trying to find your house. (Baka na-traffic.)

Focusing on other people instead of yourself eases the loneliness. If you become self-absorbed and keep obsessing about your loveless plight this season, you will likely need more than a bottle of Paxil to lift your spirits.

You can:

Spend the day in an orphanage. Bring some buckets of greasy breaded fried chicken or cartons of sweet spaghetti to share with these unfortunate souls. Or ask donations from friends for used toys or children’s clothes to donate to the children. Seeing these kids’ faces light up from sheer joy at the goodies you’re bringing is a feeling so precious that you will forget, however temporarily, how depressing (you think) your life is.

Visit a home for poor senior citizens. Next to orphans, old people whose own families have abandoned them are the most pitiful creatures imaginable. After giving their lives to their families, they are cast aside like used plastic bags. People who are forgotten need someone to talk to. I find it a real learning experience to just sit down and listen to seniors tell stories about their youth. It’s better than any reality TV show (or telenovela) and you get a history education to boot.

Spend Christmas Day with orphans. (Photo from

Invite others for a Christmas get-together. Whether your friends are alone like yourself or have families, ask them to come over for a meal and some merriment. If you want to slave over a hot pot the whole day just to forget how alone you are, then go ahead and do the entire menu. If your friends are up to it, then go potluck and ask them to bring some special dish. Christmas is all about sharing. For sure, you will all be closer to one another when you all come down with intestinal flu. What fun will it be for all to investigate whose dish caused your brains to run out your ass.

Okay, so you can be a little self-absorbed, too.

Splurge on yourself. Plan the entire day around the most important person in the world. You. Whip up a really delicious meal from a recipe you’ve been dying to try. Relax and book yourself for an entire day of pampering and wellness at your favorite spa. Go watch a Christmas movie or rent your favorite video (except those goo-goo Meg Ryan romantic comedies) to watch at home. If watching a video isn’t your thing, settle down in bed with a nice pot of tea and read a good book while your favorite music plays in the background. God knows you haven’t had much time to read except magazines, or the news online, during the entire year that you’ve been stressed at work.

Indulge. Go ahead and buy yourself a great big Christmas present—like that 40-inch Plasma TV set you’ve been ogling every time you pass by the appliance store. Or perhaps the new MacBook Pro with the 13-inch screen and 2GB memory. Sure, these items are expensive but, hey, they’re gonna last longer than a boyfriend! So go use that credit card and swipe away. It’s zero-percent interest anyway.

Go on a holiday trip. Who says you have to stay at home in this country on Christmas? Right now, go online and start surfing. What destination have you been wanting to travel to all these years? This is a good time as any to go there. And, hey, just think of the cultural education you’ll be getting. Try another country’s Christmas traditions for a change. It doesn’t have to be as far as Alaska (but on second thought, you might have better luck getting a boyfriend there, like Marian Frisk in Men in Trees). Check out New York Times’ 53 places to go to in 2008. There are a lot of exotic countries just within the region that really look like exciting places to visit (e.g., Laos, the Maldives, Lombok in Indonesia, Barossa Valley in Australia, and—believe it or not—Iran).

Go to church on Christmas Eve. There’s nothing more uplifting than to join others in celebrating Christ’s birth, which is the real point of the holidays anyway, and not just maxing out the credit card to buy everybody gifts. Most churches these days celebrate Christmas Eve Mass with some play on Christ’s birth with the neighborhood kids as the main characters, or feature an honest-to-goodness choral group that has endlessly rehearsed the traditional Christmas carols in harmony or other sacred arias. These traditions just make Christmas Mass more extraordinary and inspiring.

While shopping malls have all but eroded the real meaning of Christmas, try to remember that the season is all about giving love and joy to all, and making peace with others. It is also the time to count your blessings and realize just how lucky you are. You may not have Prince Charming by your side, but you’re healthy, are able to eat three meals a day, have a roof over your head, and good friends (or family) around you.

You have every reason to be happy.

(My column Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of BusinessMirror.)

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