Illustration by Matthew Niel J. Hebrona“My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant… Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” — Pilot, The Little Prince

WITH A pen on one hand and my awful long Christmas list on the other, I leaned back on my chair hesitantly picking which items should be erased. I had been going through the list several times already and still I was not able to choose one particular item that would weigh less in the list’s scheme of things. All were important, or so I thought before remembering the lines: “A stroll along Luneta Park with my sisters, hard-boiled eggs for lunch, and some colorful balloons.”

This was the Christmas wish of an eight-year-old girl whom I met a month ago after I and my classmates volunteered to spend time with pediatric cancer patients for a documentary that we are making for our class. We were given enough hours to spend with the special kids. Among the activities that we prepared was show-and-tell, wherein the children would draw and color their Christmas wishes, which they would explain.

In that activity, this girl who had the brightest smile despite her frail body relayed to us that her Christmas wish was nothing more than a day with her sisters.

I wasn’t expecting that kind of answer from someone at such a tender age. I was actually expecting loads of toys and stuffs or anything alike.

I thought something must be wrong with her wish. But it was I who was wrong.

When dinosaurs ruled Manila

My Christmas scenarios when I was young were grand feasts with all my relatives. I didn’t really look forward to the gifts but I did look forward to having good time with my cousins and friends.

As I grew up, I unconsciously shifted my view on Christmas. I anticipated the event because of gifts. Christmas suddenly became more and more superficial – sometimes hefty things were more preferred. I would fret over not being able to buy new clothes or my godmothers and godfathers forgetting to send me their yuletide present.

Hearing that young girl’s wish was like a wakeup call for me. I felt ashamed of myself that despite the age gap and health difference, it seemed that she–more than I–saw the true essence of Christmas.

On the one hand, despite her suffering from a terminal illness that could possibly just take her down any day, she retained a bright outlook in life. I, on the other hand, was perfectly fit yet still I was not contented with what I had.

I tried to revive that moment in order to get rid of my current jadedness. It wasn’t too late: I now started to see things once more in the light of that girl.

After that very significant reminiscence, I finally decided to delete everything unnecessary in that rather selfish list of mine, and add one important wish: I wish that I could see contentment and joy in even the simplest thing that I will encounter.


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