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Christmas and change

05:02 AM December 24, 2017

The sight of my mother cooking the long list of meals I drew up and of my father preparing the grill for barbecue is no stranger to me on Christmas Eve. Wearing my red T-shirt and my favorite green jacket, wide-eyed at my favorite dishes laid out on the table, watching the twinkling lights on the small Christmas tree that I decorated, and delightedly joining the Christmas countdown on TV with my parents and kid brother—these are what make my Christmas something to look forward to each year.

But all of that happened a long time ago.

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Because of certain dramatic incidents, we were forced to give up a simple and peaceful life in our hometown and move to a far place. It changed my life. Back then, I was already planning for the future and studying really hard for college. The whole circumstance was surprising, to say the least: how one bullet to a loved one can alter one’s life in unexpected ways.

But my parents agreed that our Christmas must still be celebrated in our hometown. After all, home is where the heart is. On our way home, I was very excited to see how things were after a year. I had heard of certain changes from my classmates. Having grown up in a province, I was thrilled to learn about them, though at first I could not believe that so much could happen in the year that I was away.

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And then I saw it, and realized that everything they had told me was true: new malls, new food chains, even new traffic lights. The tranquil barrio I had grown up in was rapidly transforming. I knew modernization was a good thing, but seeing a lot of changes within that year in my life made me wish that when I returned home,
everything would be the same as when I left.

Well, the succeeding years were even more surprising. There were more malls, more establishments, and, most especially, heavy traffic. One wouldn’t expect heavy traffic in such a small town, but I’ve found myself stuck for almost half an hour in a crowded jeepney.

I had always loved jeepneys. When I was little, my mother and I would walk from school after class to the public market, where jeepneys were usually stationed. It was something that I looked forward to every day—looking out the window of the jeepney and feeling the wind while passing by stretches of green. Now, with all this “progress,” I’m starting to despise jeepneys. Those pleasurable rides are now a distant memory.

On the other hand, Christmas is not the same and we do not celebrate it in our own home anymore. Gone are the Christmas tree that I’d decorate, the favorite dishes I’d ask my mother to cook, and the Christmas countdown with just the four of us around our small table. Now we celebrate Christmas in the house of our relatives—a happy event, to be sure, but a part of me yearns for how it was in the old days.

With everything that has happened, Christmas was slowly losing its meaning. As much as I wanted to feel the Christmas spirit, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it.

But it hit me: Why should I focus on the things that were lost, and not on the things that remained? My hometown has changed, but it is still my hometown with its beautiful sunrise and sunset. It still has vast stretches of green fields, and still provides a clear view of the night sky dotted with millions of stars. Our house continues to stand strong though unoccupied. It is still beside the sea in which I used to swim. My hometown still has competitive and disciplined residents who fight for what is right. It is still home to my relatives, and to my lovely grandparents who are always happy to see me come home.

My Christmas might not be the same, but some things never change. We still have plenty of food to eat. I still get to marvel at a Christmas tree decorated with lights and flowers. I still get to wear a warm jacket during cold nights. Most of all, I get to celebrate it with a complete family.

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Change indicates that life is progressing. The only thing we can do is accept that change is inevitable. We need to look at the brighter side, and not be stuck in the painful loss of things we expected to last forever.

Christmas is intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as well as the things that never change and the people who have come to stay.

Maxine Francesco Gwyneth C. Baculo, 16, is a Grade 11 STEM student at De La Salle Lipa.

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