by Jesse Cruz
In 2012, I moved to Manila and decided to spend the Christmas holidays in the Philippines for the first time. While I look forward to new experiences, I had mixed feelings about this in particular, as my family was in Toronto and this marked the first time I would celebrate Christmas without them. On December 24th of that year, I partook in the SYA Prison Ministry which had an outreach at the Makati City Jail. At least for half a day, I was able to enjoy Christmas Eve with my surrogate family which was wonderful and effectively served as the holiday highlight. Having the opportunity to practice Christian values during this special time, together with other community members, indeed created memories which will remain fond.
In the succeeding years after 2012, I aspired and continued to want to spend Christmas holidays with my immediate family in Toronto. I can’t think of anything that I look forward to, more than the Christmas day tradition of attending morning mass as a family, having brunch at the kitchenette table as a family, and having Christmas dinner as a family.
I feel it is incredibly easy to get caught up in the consumerism of the holidays, with a focus on having the most sumptuous meals and purchasing presents that are typically nice-to-haves. The truly extraordinary ‘gift’ of Christmas is being in the presence of Jesus, celebrating his life in its eternity, together with ‘family’ – whether it be immediate and extended relatives, community, partners, and friends.
As published in the December 4 issue of the Parish Bulletin.