Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Am The Ghost Of Christmas. Period.

Growing up, Christmas Day for me meant a pile of presents under the tree. Our parents gave us gifts, as well as Santa Claus (until we got old enough). That’s two for each of us six siblings already. Plus back then our uncles and aunts would send money to our parents so that they’ll buy for them the gifts for their pamangkins and inaanaks.

But as the years progressed and my brothers and sister got married and left and our uncles and aunts migrated to the U.S. or worked in Baharain and we siblings got jobs of our own and my parents retired, the pile of gifts under the tree got smaller. And after 5 consecutive years of spending Christmas in Bohol with my mom, aunt and the unmarried ones, this is the first time we’re celebrating Christmas as a whole family once again here in Manila. (Well, almost; our youngest sister is spending her very first Christmas season working in a call center in Singapore.) This year the pile was mostly from me; my sister and brother are in between jobs, and my mom has stopped buying gifts since she retired.

And yet it was one of the happiest Christmases ever. It’s really different when you fall in love with your family. At lunchtime everyone was there. Even my sister was virtually there via the webcam; she stayed with us throughout the meal, until she had to log off because the DHs were already crowding into the internet cafe.

And while the gifts were few, they were heartfelt. My brother and his wife gave me a spoofy “Kuya Germicidal Soap” t-shirt (hmmm… I hope they suspect something, hehehe). And now my sister and brother, the ones who have all the time in the world to watch TV the whole day, now have two movies each to watch (I got all horror films—Poltergeist, Twilight Zone (The Movie), The Shining and Alien. Let’s see if they can sleep in the days to come, mwhahaha!)

Before I felt bad that I got fewer and fewer gifts every year. But as I looked at the few gifts I got this year, no sad feeling washed over me.

This year got me wondering: what would I do if I had to spend Christmas on my own? Happiness is best shared with others; if I were in my sister’s shoes, I’d gather my friends. But what if my friends have plans of their own, or couldn’t join me? I think I’d end up treating myself to a day for myself. Or maybe drop by an orphanage. Who knows what I’m capable of when no one is watching except Him?

So my gift to myself this year is this: While others can make you happy, do not depend on others for your happiness. Yeah, yeah, I can already hear you romantics groaning behind their keyboards as you’re reading the previous sentence. No wonder you romantics slam the song “The Greatest Love Of All”. Oh well, go ahead and quibble all you want.

But notice how the song says “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” and “Make the Yuletide gay”? Take note of the active verbs.

At the end of the day if your Christmas wasn’t happy, it was your choice.

* * * * *

Quotes for post-Christmas ponderings:

The normal rhythm of life oscillates in general between a mild satisfaction with oneself and a slight discomfort, originating in the knowledge of one’s personal shortcomings.... To be delighted with oneself is the exception and, often enough, a smoke screen which we produce for ourselves and of course for others. Somewhere in it is a lingering feeling of discomfort with ourselves and a slight self-dislike. I assert that an increase of this spirit of discontent renders a person especially susceptible to “falling in love.” – Theodor Reik, Of Love And Lust

Remember: most of us are lazy. To relieve our feelings of boredom or inadequacy on our own takes too much effort; letting someone else do the job is both easier and more exciting. – Robert Greene, Art Of Seduction


Quentin X said...

Very insightful, Mr. McVie (as opposed to Joel).

Anonymous said...

yeap, it is indeed a choice. im spending my 1st christmas away from my family here in london. i decided well ahead that i wont feel sad, and it worked for me, i also did the same thing like your sister, i joined the family noche buena through webcam.

merry christmas to you mcvie and to the rest of the fabcasters!

london boy :)

joelmcvie said...

@LONDON BOY: Good for you! Merry Christmas to you too.

estan said...

i missed christmas with my family but this new year, i'll be definitely home.

its always different when your with your loved ones di ba?

anyway, maayong pasko ug bulahang bag-ong tuig!