RECENTLY, my younger brother had been thinking about the “hypocrisy” of Christmas. He had grown cynical of how people seem to instantly change their behavior for the better only during the Yuletide season. They buy each other gifts, go to Simbang Gabi, write resolutions for the New Year they rarely accomplish in the long run, and so on.

He had also been contemplating the ideal that everyone should act his or her best and be kind all-year-round, just like many Christmas songs say we should do. This made me look back to one Christmas many years ago, when my father and my aunt were engaged in a year-long misunderstanding.

The family was eating at the dining table in our house at midnight and my father and aunt were seated beside each other. Since they hadn’t been talking for months, we somehow already got used to the tension whenever they were in the same room. We just tried not to mind so much, as not to spoil the occasion.

What surprised us was when my aunt turned toward my father and said, “Malapit nang mag-New Year ah (It will be New Year soon).”

My father, in turn, smiled and replied, “Oo nga (You’re right).”

Since then, he and my aunt began to get along again and never had an argument that intense.

I learned from a Theology class that man had “concupiscence,” a natural tendency toward things such as sin and conflict. But that concupiscence is only one part of our nature. More importantly, we also have the tendency and the choice to be good. I perceive this to be a 50-50 thing, where it is up to us to choose which side we’re going to be on for any particular day or situation.

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If that’s so, then more than any other day in the entire year, Christmas should be the one day when the good in us has the most chance to win. It’s the day we are graced by God, no less, to choose the better side of our personality and manifest it with the people around us.

And so, just like my father and aunt did, we forgive, we eat together with our family (whom some of us in college probably don’t even spend a lot of time with anymore, as I am guilty of), and we move on—praying that the coming year might be a better time to become better persons ourselves.

For me, that’s not hypocrisy. I call it a good start because we still make an effort. If it’s inevitable for us to commit the same mistakes again or to make new ones next year, as we all probably will, so be it. Giving up entirely is the real hypocrisy.

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