“Make an effort to attend every Christmas party you’re invited to, even if you can only stay a few minutes.” UNKNOWN
By Alex P. Vidal
While we commiserate with our brothers and sisters in Central Visayas who lost their family members, homes and livelihood in the Yolanda mayhem, we should not use the tragedy as main reason why we will not hold Christmas parties this month of December.
Christmas parties are not just about food and expensive decorations and gifts. They are part of Filipino tradition, as well as tradition practiced in the Christian world. Some of us use the occasion to hold family or class reunions, at the same time; a chance get-together event to reminisce the past and remember loved ones who have departed and those who are now living abroad.
A Christmas party is one huge occasion where office mates, relatives, business partners, neighbors, friends and lovers gather to renew their ties, rebuild relationships, settle disputes “in the spirit of Christmas” and share gifts among themselves.
Sometimes long lost friends and relatives are able to meet only during Christmas parties when they have the opportunity to use the Yuletide season to temporarily leave their workplace and be with their families and friends.
We don’t find it scandalous if we proceed with our Christmas parties this Yuletide season as long as they are not so lavish and we don’t waste food and money. As long as the parties are simple and far from the extravagance we normally see in hotels and mansions of the rich and famous, our conscience will not bother us. God won’t get mad at us.
Holding a Christmas party does not mean that we will stop caring for our hungry and homeless countrymen in Central Visayas. Relief operations will not be set aside if we hold Christmas parties. Foreign donors won’t stop coming in if we hold Christmas parties. Our concerns and sympathies are intact–with or without Christmas parties.
It’s another story if we remain callous and insensitive with the victims’ plight and miseries and have not done anything to extend help in whatever means, yet we proceed with grandiose parties even if we are aware many of them still can’t eat three decent square meals a day in evacuation centers.
What is so scandalous is when we use the cash donations intended for the victims to buy foods, drinks and gifts for our own selves during the Christmas party; if we solicit money for the party at the expense of the victims.
The recent super typhoon happened a month before the world would celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes. It was a test of our character, values and spirit; of how strong and determined we are to withstand and recover from such horrific tragedy that almost wiped out parts of our islands from the face of earth, a nightmarish calamity that sent to tears different nationalities from all over the globe who saw the terror and shock on their TV sets and internet.
It should not reduce us to cultural pygmies daunted by trauma and hysteria. We should not deny ourselves the joy and happiness–and opportunity to savor and celebrate the true spirit of Christmas which happens only once a year.