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THIS month’s celebration and bliss for some of us seem forced, compulsory even. If it’s sweet, it’s the saccharine kind. It’s a general truth that Christmas season should be happy, and even if you received your fifth photo frame at the office Kris Kringle, you have to smile because it’s better to give than to receive. But no, it’s not just that.

If you are sad or upset during Christmas, you’re probably not a Grinch. You’re probably an OFW (overseas Filipino worker), thousands of miles away from home, from noche buena, from the fruit cakes and the queso de bola, the misa de gallo and the bibingka. You even miss your goddaughters and godsons who you used to hide from. If a tear rolls down your cheek, it would be hardened by frost or evaporated by heat before you can reach for that scarf. You’re probably somewhere warm it hurts when it plays “Frosty the Snowman.” And all you have around you are strangers and walls that no matter how grand the decors and festive the sights, remain as strangers and walls.

If you are sad or upset during Christmas, you’re not a Grinch. You’re probably just broke. The pressures of capitalism are taller than most Christmas trees and we are subconsciously led to, think it’s okay to splurge and for bank accounts to go negative during the Holidays. Despite the sermons about Jesus being born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes, it seems not just right if gifts are not part of the Christmas scene. And there are those home for the noche buena but have no fruit cakes or queso de bola, who will not make it to the misa de gallo and the bibingka.

If you are sad or upset during Christmas, you’re probably not a Grinch. You or a loved one just met an unfortunate accident or illness, and celebrating is impossible. Know at least that your condition is temporary. Still there is no cheer in the fruit cakes.

If you are sad or upset during Christmas, you’re probably not a Grinch. You have just known great loss in the recent years. It’s probably something material like a business venture gone bad. Some of us may be facing Christmas with one less person at the dinner table. Some of us may have ended relationships. And because December is a great amplifier of emotions – it magnifies joy and triples suffering–that void they left may overshadow all the other reasons for celebrating. Ironic how emptiness can feel so heavy.

If you are sad or upset during Christmas, you’re probably not a Grinch. And know, please know, that while it may seem you are in the minority, remember that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” You are not the only one, but hope that one Christmas when the tables have turned, everything will be fine. For now, know that it is okay to feel blue underneath the mistletoe./PN



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