I used to like Christmas

Christmas season, where I’m from, is celebrated starting September. Yes, as soon as the ber months start rolling in you’ll start hearing Christmas songs in the malls.

You’ll feel people’s excitement in the air as homes start putting up trees by October and outdoor Christmas lights by November.

Roads are jampacked with cars enroute to a gathering or reunion. Airports are as busy as ever with families coming home for the holidays. To say we make Christmas so festivew is an understatement, because where I’m from Christmas is the season when people are so giddy, ecstatic, excited, like little ants on steroids.

And I used to love it. I used to look forward to the most wonderful time of the year. I used to look forward to this season, to the smell of chest nuts roasting, the wonderful light displays, and the sound of drunk people and their endless karaoke sessions.

I used to love it.

Until I lost my mother.

This is my third Christmas without her. And just when I thought the first one would be the worst, it seems like it’s just as sad each year.

Christmas where I’m from reminds me of my loss. My grief becomes so palpable I can feel it in every fiber of my body. Everywhere I look I’m reminded of my mother, how happy I was with her every Christmas. The things we used to do.

I was her designated driver and while I used to bemoan the fact that I had to drive her to every single reunion, gathering and what not when I was younger I miss it now. I miss the horrible Christmas traffic we used to find ourselves in because those were hours I spent in the car talking to her. She was a good listener, she was my best friend.

I used to say she was like a moth, always drawn to bright lights. She loved them. She loved big, bright lights, loud music, crowded places, she loved life and people. She loved the parties and the frenzied gatherings.

She had such a zest for life that was so infectious. “Ang sarap mabuhay!” [It feels good to be alive!], she used to often say.

So now Christmas reminds me of her, reminds me of my loss, reminds me of what I don’t have anymore. I often find myself staring blankly at roasted chestnuts in the mall, trying to recall how it felt like to bring some for my mom because those are her favorite. I would stare at lights and feel sad because my momma won’t get to see these lights anymore.

But I am not giving up on Christmas. Maybe someday I will get to love it again. Maybe someday it won’t remind me of my loss. Maybe someday I will look forward to this time of the year again. Just not now. Not this year, not anytime soon.

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