A marvelous first time for my family to spend Christmas our way. Certainly my kind of introvert party.
We planned for a simple noche buena. I planned for Christmas day, tucked in with a few surprises.
On Christmas eve we went to midnight mass. Upon getting home we exchanged gifts by the Christmas tree. And even though there were just the four of us -- my dad, my mom, my sister, and myself, the room was filled with quiet joy and we were ourselves. There were our meager gifts, far from kingly gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but loaded with thoughtfulness and the kind of love that we rarely express but manifest in the quiet ways of our nature. My surprise was the announcement that we would be having a feast for lunch the next day, and that I could buy my dad's gift on Christmas day instead of having to wait for the last week of January (because of the paycheck fiasco). (An angel of a friend has come forward with a lifeline to help make our Christmas less constrained.)
Then we ended up being five instead of four. My sister's best friend, who has become a dear family friend, joined us, bearing an unbelievable abundance of gifts for the family. We were his family and we were happy to have him.
On Christmas eve and Christmas day I was able to do what I love most to do -- I made art by painting.
On Christmas day I took my parents and sister to lunch at a shabu-shabu and grill buffet. The meal was peaceful, happy, peppered with occasional laughter, cozy, relaxed, generally quiet which made us enjoy it even more. We focused on our food and our just-right conversations -- lots of silent intermissions, unburdened by obligations for small talk, and we were all together at one table, able to eat our fill (mine were lots of squid, baby octopus, lamb bites, and chicken, matched with endless soup of vegetables, oysters, clams, and shrimps), and able to linger at our preferred pace up to dessert and coffee. The smiles on all our faces revealed just how different this Christmas is, and how much more true to the spirit regardless of what other people may think or believe.
After lunch was gift-buying, and then we went off our own ways to indulge in our own interests. This allowance of space and solitude to pursue and practice the callings of our nature is one of the best things about my family. No resentments, no demands, no manipulations. My mom, being currently burdened by her arthritic knee, sought out resting places and struck up conversations with fellow senior adults who were also leaning on their own walking canes, taking a breather. By themselves they found companionship on Christmas even as they are temporarily "out-of-order", and are able to bring solace and comfort to each other. The nicest thing was that after this brief encounter, there was an amiable parting of ways, with no lingering obligations, and no measurements of performance. There was only gratitude.
By mid-afternoon we found the crowds already too thick and noisy and offensive to our introverted natures so we headed for home, where we all had a nap.
Dinner was a simple, regular affair at home. We savoured, again, the quiet and our individual freedoms to do as we pleased. Truly we had a very happy Christmas, and today I am still hung-over with it.
To all who read this post -- may you have had the season you had hoped for, and if not, then there is still this magical week before the new year arrives. May blessings be upon you as they have been upon me and my own. May you be touched by kindness and generosity both ways --- as giver and as receiver. May you find that precious pocket of peace and true happiness, for that pocket will get you through the not-so-good parts (often inevitable for many of us). Go and be an example of peace and a gift of true joy. Every choice, every act we make is the beat of a butterfly's wing that can trigger storms along the way. Let the storms we create be those in the favour of truth, authenticity, and a life by design not default.