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In the moment of my reflections, I sat beside the glittering lights of the Christmas tree. As I recollect the many Christmases that I had in the Philippines, it made me feel nostalgic. The “Simbang Gabi” (Midnight Mass) that I used to go had been one of the most glorious days of my life as I knew that Christmas – just around the bend. The Christmas songs on the radio played made my heart cheery although I heard them so many times each year.

What is the actual meaning of Christmas to me?  When I was a kid – this is the way I spent Christmas. Aside from the birthday of Jesus Christ, as a child, Christmas also meant I will receive many presents from my godmothers, godfathers, and Santa Clause. A beautiful day, for I can eat as many lollies as I want to. The Christmas season also brought me closer to my friends. We sang Christmas carols in the neighbourhood from December 16 right through to the Christmas Eve. As far as I can recall, I made sure to attend the Midnight Mass, from the beginning, which also commenced on the 16th of December. A tradition of which my family practised and for that matter, I was awakened by my grandma as early as 3:00 o’clock in the morning to get ready. After the mass, the aroma of the food outside the church prevailed as vendors sold “Puto Bumbong” and “Bibingka” that made me hungry. As I grew the path of my youth, I continued to go to the Midnight Mass come 16 of December until the Christmas Eve, of which not many times that I had missed.

However, when I left my beloved country, Christmas had never been the same. I spent my first Christmas in Darwin, Australia with my family and friends many years ago but somehow, I longed to do the things that I was accustomed to. Thenceforth, my Christmas life had changed in so many ways. I celebrated the birthday of our King in other countries. I also brought my children to the Philippines for them to experience the wonderful atmosphere of Christmas, few times.

Ergo, as years passed by, Christmas has given me a different perspective. Albeit the day Jesus Christ was born – celebrated throughout the world, I must admit that I rejoice Him each and every day of the year. The customs and traditions still matter to me; the reason I spend Christmas in the Philippines whenever I could. The high in jig time I proclaimed whenever I see the illuminating lights everywhere I go. The cheers and the festive moods that my relatives, friends and neighbours shared with me – I sincerely missed so much. Christmas is the time to give our love not only to the people who are dear to our heart. It is also, the moment to forgive whoever wronged us. It is not how big the present and how many gifts I get anymore. The exactness of the scene: to love and to forgive. For the celebrant, Jesus Christ was born to shower love, joy and peace to the world.

In my total contemplation, I blinked and cheered that I only have a few more nights of sleep – Christmas is here. Then, I stood up, put on the stereo and played some Christmas songs. Oh! How splendid! My favourite time of the year is going to be a great one again! In my totality, it does not matter where I am, as long as I am with my loved ones, that’s the most important of all. I have the most memorable Christmas when I was a kid and no one can take that away from me. Love –  the greatest theme to me, everyday. CHRISTMAS is the time for me to cheer and rejoice the birthday of our KING, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS CHRIST. For without Him, perhaps, I won’t be able to know the true meaning of Love.