Thursday, November 24, 2005


I finally caught the Christmas Spirit the other night. I seem to have been fighting it this year, scoffing at how the Halloween candy didn't even get a chance to get cold before all the store windows were filled with jolly elves and candy canes.....blatant commercialism!.... Or how early they were playing carols on the radio. I didn't even care that Santa was in town for the Santa Claus Parade! HUMBUG I say! Well what pushed me over to the brightWinter_012 side you was a snow storm. I guess there's nothing like a good downfall of snow to give the place the ambience conducive to all things Christmas. These past few days have certainly been a doozie in terms of snowfall, and like the song says "it doesn't show signs of stopping". As I was driving through the white menaceWinter_016 at 1 in the morning from one end of the boondocks to another end of what is now just the semi-boony area of my house, (the word boondocks BTW come's from the Tagalog word bundok which means mountain, but I digress....) I decided to just take it easy, besides, there were hardly any other cars on the road, and I didn't want to ditch my car like I did on that very same road years ago when I was still in high school. Winter_017 So I drove slowly, tuned the radio to 97.3 FM where the annual 24hr carol-fest had already begun a week ago. In between the festive music, was told a really amazing story. Not just amazing, but unbelievably amazing! I like to believe that it's true.....

Anyways, here's the jist of it: A radio listener had written a letter to the radio host about a story that happened over 30 years ago. He told of how his white hair and beard often got him mistaken for the jolly old elf himself. One day, while doing some window shopping, he noticed a young lady staring at him from a distance. Eventually she approached him and addressed him as Santa. She confessed how silly she felt that a grown woman still believed in Santa, but she just didn't know where else to turn. She told him that she had written several letters but just didn't know how to get them to him. She explained that her husband was a soldier sent to the Vietnam War, but that he had been lost. She had been looking for him for the past three years, and she had reached the end of her rope. So our willing Kris Kringle gladly took her letters as well as the lost soldier's info and picture and promised the young lady that he would do what he could. Unfortunately, he had no luck himself......Later that year, our friendly neighbourhood Santa took a trip to the Philippines. A doctor friend of his asked if he could make a trip to his village on the coast so that his young patients there could see Santa in the flesh. While there, he was told a story of how an American soldier had washed up on shore some time ago, suffering from amnesia. He asked to meet the poor guy, and low and behold, he matched the picture that the young wife had given him. When he called the soldier by his name, the soldier began to remember who he was again. Santa made the arrangements, and on Christmas eve of that year, he knocked on the young wife's door in full Santa uniform. Wishing her a Merry Christmas, he pulled the missing husband into the doorway. And the Christmas miracle was complete. Apparently they're still happily married and their kids still call him Santa. Wow....was that for real? What are the chances? Sorry, my re-telling of the story would have more impact if I had some sappy instrumental music in the background, like they did on the radio.....Has anybody else heard this story?

Anyways, as I got closer to home I saw a Winter_015huge flag in the shopping center parking lot being battered by the blizzard of snow and ice much more Canadian an image could you get? But it reminded me of the Christmases I spent away from home in the tropic climes of the Philippines, where there never was so much as a snowflake at Christmas time. My first Christmas away from home, was a little bit lonely, a little bit foreign....I was literally that person singing "White Christmas".....But soon enough the Christmas spirit would get me there too.....Without the snow, I would always look for the road side Christmas lantern (Parol in Filipino) vendors to herald the arrival of the Christmas Parol_vendorsseason for me..... I've always been fascinated by these things, mesmerized by their flashing regularity and their chaotic joyfulness....maybe I was hypnotized by all the blinking lights the first time I saw one, and I've been hooked ever since.....I got snow now, but I do miss the bright lights of a Philippine Christmas. Other things I miss: the little kids who would serenade you with carols for your spare change and their subsequent thank you song, the fact that baby Jesus still outnumbers Santa Claus in the decorations that celebrate His birthday, oh, and the fireworks, did I mention the fireworks? New Year's eve is not the same anywhere else!

Oh 1awwell, Christmas eve is a month away, this Sunday is the first day of Advent - the season of preparation for the birthday of Christ, there's snow on the ground, the Christmas trees have been chopped down and are ready for sale, and the lights are going up everywhere. Time to put up the parols! Christmas is in the air......

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