Christmas present | Inquirer Opinion

Christmas present

05:06 AM December 26, 2017

It is not really my year this year, but for all the good and the bad that has happened to me, I am embracing it with acceptance, forgiveness and optimism. I learned. I am not saying that I will not be doing the same things again, or that I will be better next year, because I am only human (and fragile), and I break promises no matter how hard I try not to. But I learned and I will keep on learning, and in as much as I can, at least I know better next time around.

The year started fine, happy at the very least. The annual Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan hyped up the start of my 2017 with street dancing and merrymaking. I do not drink booze, so my euphoria was basically based on being with the people I love and not on alcohol, parties, celebrity, and band concerts.

Our only son was exceptional in school with minimal supervision and less effort (and more absences) than necessary. He even joined and won school contests, finishing in first place in vocal solo. Business, our technical-vocational institution, was doing great because we had numerous scholarships than expected. We were able to upgrade our facilities, apply for mobile training, and expand in adjacent provinces.


However, the work stress caught up with me and I got really sick. I was in hospital for a week, with the doctors speculating on the cause of my illness. But it made me closer to God, and it made me have faith in people who have their own diverse beliefs but all made instruments of God in healing others. I felt that I was given a second life when my ovarian cyst disappeared months after my hospital stay. I vouched to take care of my body not for myself or for the sake of the school, but primarily for my family, my #TeamGuzman.


Some days were unbelievably good, some were utterly bad. Some felt like God’s hands were on my shoulder, some felt like bad luck followed me everywhere I went. Still, it was nice to be alive; in fact, I am thankful I am breathing despite the ups and downs. I just pray to God to help me get through all the difficulties and to make me stronger as another one adds to the pile. Problems are inevitable in life, and if all of us have our own cross to carry, at least I know mine was created out of God’s will and not something I literally made to burden myself.

Nevertheless, I am glad that another year has added to my life and to Matt’s and Ball’s, and that our little dear Schiavie has turned one year old. Indeed, Schiavie is the one who leaves a little sparkle in our everyday lives because she is the epitome of innocence, free spirit, and simple pleasure. Ball comes a near second because he knows how to complain now and he has come face to face with disappointment, defeat, sorrow, and frustration already, like every other toddler. My husband and our children are my greatest treasures in life—they are my source of direction, meaning, inspiration, and even sanity.

With family, I can say that my being sick made me even closer to some, a few of whom I am already very close to. It made me appreciate those who prayed for me and who took care of me. My 10-day vacation abroad also reconnected me with my adopted family and my grade-school friends. It made me wistful: If
only our world were not separated by seas, if only everyone we love were only walking distance away… I guess God created the distance to allow us to miss each other, make every parting bearable, and make every reunion surreal.

With friends, I did not lose any this year, not as much as four years ago when I lost my closest friends. I am happy to be reunited with them now. Although it is not the same as before, at least our friendship did not go to waste. I also made new ones and would love to have them for keeps.

Now that it is the most wonderful time of the year, I made it a point to wrap a present for everyone I felt I needed to thank, most of them for their kindness. Gratitude is perhaps one of the best gifts we can give people all year round, to make them feel appreciated as well. I wrapped presents way back in July even if the list kept adding up.

It makes me feel blessed that many people love me and my family, and that they are always there for us no matter what. When asked what I wanted this year, I could not even think of what I lack. I am not saying that I do not need anything, but I guess there is nothing I want that I cannot work hard for.


I did not ask, but God gave me atonement. I was in Booksale with my son and I saw the book like manna straight from
heaven. Let me share with you a quote from “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck: “Heaven is the atonement of all
things. It’s a chance to fix the unfixable and to start all over again. It begins when you forgive yourself for all you’ve done wrong and forgive others for all they’ve done to you. Your mistakes aren’t mistakes anymore, they’re just things that make you stronger. Atonement is the greatest redeeming and equalizing force that leads to the fulfillment of all things… everyone you’ve loved and lost.”

I decided it is time to forgive. I am forgiving myself for whatever it is that has been making me look back with regret sometimes. I am forgiving myself for dwelling on what I lacked in my life when I was younger because God blessed me so much more when he gave me a loving and faithful husband (who
never gave up on me) and two adorable kids. I am forgiving myself for my mistakes done unintentionally, and if it may have hurt others. Just the same, I am forgiving those people who enjoy seeing me suffer, perhaps because they hate me too much, sprung from their own insecurities. I am forgiving those who have nothing to do with their lives but ruin the lives of others, mostly through gossip. I am forgiving those who lied to me to save themselves. I am forgiving even those not asking for it. God bless your souls.

I pray that this Christmas, you, too, will receive your atonement. Start by forgiving, first yourself, then the people around you. Free yourself from everything that is holding you from being joyful. Do not let anything spoil the magic of Christmas.

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Maria Solita Zaldivar-Guzman, 27, says she is “always and forever a fan of Christmas.”

TAGS: Christmas, opinion

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