“Christmas is truly a magical time. It made all my money disappear!’’
– Author (mercifully) unknown
I must admit, I have weird conversations with myself during Christmas. As the first week of December announces itself, I start to panic as I feel I am lagging behind my Christmas schedule. I begin to beat myself up and then feel guilty because I am doing so. My thought bubbles would then read: “But it’s Christmas! I’m supposed to be happy!” I carry this with me, and then secretly ask my friends how they’re catching up with their Christmas tasks. There is a collective eye-rolling and a sigh of relief (mostly from me). I am not alone. They are at times panicking and adrift as well. It seems that Christmas is the season when we feel that we’re supposed to DO a lot of things. We should buy numerous gifts, from infants to septuagenarians. We’re supposed to attend celebrations and reunions left, right, front and center. We have to be happy to see everyone. In the midst of the frenzied pace, we can forget to BE a lot of certain things.
Heightened emphasis on relationships
The Christmas season also puts our relationships under a microscope. For Filipinos, it seems like an MRI, really. How much do I really like this person, and should I give him a gift? Hmmm. Is this how much I mean to them … one hanky? We judge how others feel about us why what they give us. We sense how others consider us part of their kin by how large the spread and by how welcome we feel in their presence. On the other hand, this season also seems to magnify the absence of family and friends who are far away or who have departed. The single empty space in the table can seem to be bigger than the entire room. These may lead us to a sense of loss and isolation. Add to that, all our heavy “should” statements: should be, have to, supposed to. Add the sense of guilt and bewilderment at why we are feeling this way. Not all Christmases are created equal for all. Of course, there are lovely moments of happiness and peace. But for others, Christmas can be a gulf of loneliness, too.
It is a good time to remember that we are, closely entangled and connected. The theory of ‘six degrees of separation’ was first posited in 1929 by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in a short story “Chain-links”. Here, his characters suggested that any two persons could be connected by at most five acquaintances. This premise continues to be examined and was even studied more extensively at the popular journal Psychology Today. They found out that in United States, people are more tightly linked … even up to just three links away.
Try it yourself. Pick someone, anyone from around the globe and you’ll definitely find a link. Let’s see, for me, I will go Hollywood and pick Will Smith. Will Smith and I are connected by one link because he was once a passenger on a Cathay Pacific flight by my high school classmate, Joyce. (That was fast)
MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST
Pius the XII wrote the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi on June 29, 1943 during World War II. It is one of the more important encyclicals of the Pope and was also one of the timeliest. According to the encyclical, the Church is the body of believers who have been baptized and who profess their faith in Christ. Christ is the head of the body, and we all form the rest of it.
The Mystical Body is also like a human body, in a sense. When a part of our body aches, even the pinky finger – the whole body feels it. The entire body feels the imbalance. Why? It is simple really. Every part counts and every part is significant.
This is something to remember when one feels down in the dumps during the supposedly merry season. We all belong, and we all matter. Being unhappy doesn’t mean one is unfeeling of Christmas. It means one is connected. It means one belongs.