Be of good cheer, they say

It’s Christmas.
This used to be my favorite time of the year.

Way back when, we’d have a big old party at the old maternal homestead. All the cousins would go home to Guinobatan; we’d stay there for at least a week. When we were kids, it was an awesome playground, lots of space in the great outdoors. Then: Half of the land was taken by the bank. Lola Dina got cancer…recovered, but got dementia…died. So did the tradition.

The immediate family hunkered down to “just us.” We’d go to Guinobatan for the day, maybe, check out what’s what, celebrate at home in Tabaco. Old routine from college through my 20s up until a few years ago: Go home, be with family, awkward AF traditions, but pretty much ok bonding time mixed in with the drama.

I haven’t gone home for three years since mother got sick. Christmas transferred to Manila. And then my dad’s disappeared so now I don’t have a reason to go home at all. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in my parents’ house, now occupied by my brother and his family.

I haven’t put up any Christmas decor at the apartment. “The cats will just destroy them.” I tell myself. But really, it’s because I don’t feel Christmas anymore.

My sister said something recently that stuck with me: “Those were happier times.” We were comparing notes about what to wear for the inevitable office parties, and somehow the conversation led to an old gown of mama’s, which she wore for the Miss Saigon comeback at the CCP. Dad and ma had a blast that night. 

I’m too young for “Those were happier times,” but there it is.

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