I’VE BEEN afraid of changin’.

After attending Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I took the time to walk around the Benavidez Park, beholding the magnificence of the Main Building lit up by spot and Christmas lights, and at times, watch people pass me by. While the University administration has simply outdone itself in festooning the campus with lights this year, the churchgoers and other passersby walking under them were far more interesting to observe.

Truly, as I always say, the Christmas holidays turn us into sentimental creatures, and particularly enjoyable to watch were lovers in each other’s arms as they walked slowly down the park’s walkways. I did notice the nip in the night air.

‘Cause I built my life around you.

I couldn’t help being nostalgic. There is something about these nights that leave your memory and imagination running wild, combining to form fancy flights to what-could-have-beens and what-could-be’s.

Christmas may be the only thing on earth powerful enough to restore faith and the purity of a child’s soul in us, Christian or not. Who will deny that despite our knowing better, Santa is one figure we just can’t banish from our minds? He’s one of those images we cling to in a sort of hoping, but which is not really empty, too. Despite what is happening around us, the atmosphere is able to maintain a light note, and we still manage genuine smiles. For reasons entirely our own, we believe, even for a while.

So, that night, I let my imagination play: This year, I will go home to spend the holidays with my parents and siblings, and perhaps one of these nights, I will also walk down those brightly lit paths with one who has recently been mercilessly quiet and distant.

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Give me a break. I have nightmares most of the time these days.

But time makes you bolder.

It’s a pity the Christmas season lasts only for a month. But the New Year is just around the corner; then it’s only 11 months until the next Christmas holidays.

Despite all that happen throughout the year, tragic or joyful, there is that one holiday season we just can’t wait for. Believe me, even the forlorn and less fortunate look forward to it. Hope is free, and there is plenty of it to go around.

It is with this in mind that I say, come to think of it, Christmas doesn’t last only for a month. It lasts as long as we look forward to it, year in and year out. “’Di bale, babawi ako sa Pasko,” don’t we always say, regardless of what it is about? The season is omnipresent throughout the year, albeit on a level not noticeable. Before we know it, another year has passed. Time flies. Then Christmas again reaches its peak come December.

Even children get older. I’m getting older too.

Change is something that is sometimes difficult to accept. Forgive me; my words are inadequate. It is harder to write about something if you try to, and that is what I am doing here. Change is one of those things you just live, but forever cannot explain fully. I can therefore say with a degree of certainty that in one way or another, I have changed, despite my fear to.

And yet, growing up and gathering all those years of rambling off, uncontrollable even by my mother, something has remained: my person, constantly changing but staying the same, perhaps only gathering more of the whole it will be when life ends.

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That night, after the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, watching the lights and the people passing me by, I took some time to walk by the Benavidez Park. It’s a wonder how, sometimes, we find in ourselves things we have always been looking for, even momentarily. Like the confidence that time will pass and we will have our share of rough seas. But we’ll stick around.

Yes, those things. Hope. Faith. Peace.

Happy Christmas.

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