Of the 27 Christmases I have had, this one which just ended was the most aberrant of all. It was the first Christmas I had without Papa. That fateful 8th day of March 2010 snatched me off of the privilege to spend another Christmas with the greatest man in my life.
Spending Christmas—err, this whole merry-making season, without Papa needs a lot of getting used to: getting used to buying gifts just for Mama, writing only my name and my sister’s and mom’s names in the FROM section of the Christmas greeting card, my mom receiving gifts just for her alone and no longer receiving something especially designed for couples, and all other petty but seemingly significant stuff we used to do and experience during this season.
Of all these things about this season that we need to get used to now that Papa’s gone, there were some specifics which seemed to be much harder to get accustomed with. And yes, I’m way more emotional on these issues.
First off, instead of just simply spending the day before Christmas at home with Papa, preparing stuff for our Noche Buena or perhaps wrapping gifts, we had to go to the cemetery to visit him. I know death is super inevitable but it’s just way too heavy inside especially when it’s one of your parents whom you owe your life to who’s inside that rectangular rock box and whom you’re visiting. Admittedly, I faked cheerfulness that morning of December 24 and tried as much as I could to hold back the tears which I believe were crazily wanting to flow down from my eyes.
Then the Noche Buena. Christmas Eve’s always been a very special part of the Christmas season in our family. It’s a tradition that my sister and I grew up with and came to accept as something that must be celebrated and be spent with your loved ones. It’s during that time when we would feast over fiesta ham, hotdogs, chicken, cake, spaghetti or anything prepared by Papa and Mama and then exchanged gifts afterwards. It’s really something we’ve been looking forward to as a family.
Now that Papa’s gone, we decided to have our Noche Buena in my Lola’s (mother side) house with my mom’s siblings and our cousins. They’re not really used to having Noche Buena since they don’t look at it the way Papa and Mama and me and my sister looked at it as essential in the Christmas celebration. Indeed, it was a bit of a new experience for my mom’s side of the family. I’m very much thankful to them because even if they’re already way too sleepy and tired that night, they still waited till the clock hit 12am and celebrated Christmas eve with us. Their presence somehow lessened the yearning for Papa’s presence.
Christmas mornings were also significant episodes in our lives with Papa. I was used to having Papa wake me and my sister up, telling us it’s already getting late and we need to hurry up because we have to hear mass by whatever time. There were Christmas mornings when he would wake us up with a sweet smile on his face, some Chrismas mornings with a sweet Merry Christmas greetings and hug, and some mornings with just a tap on our feet or on our shoulders. The last Christmas morning we had with him, he just waited for us at the dining table since he can no longer stand due to his amputated left leg caused by his diabetes.
Waking up the morning of Christmas day this year was way too different. Obviously. No more Papa to wake us up or to wait for us at the dining table. It was just me, my sister and my mom sharing breakfast that Christmas dawn.
No more Papa to ask Mama to iron his brand new polo and pants. No more Papa sitting by the chair shining his shoes so it’ll look good as new on a Christmas day. No more Papa looking at the mirror and calling me after I took a bath just to tell me he’s so ‘gwapo’ and questioning why I didn’t grow up as good-looking as he is. No more Papa impatiently ranting about our ‘kabagalan’ to get dressed. No more Papa calling us every now and then asking us to hurry up because we’ll be late for the mass. No more Papa to sit on the passenger seat of the cab and give directions to the driver as to where to pass so we could get to the church as fast as we could.
No more Papa and that’s what made this Christmas way different and too emotional from the previous Christmas seasons of my life, of my mom’s and my sister’s lives. It was something we’ve been anticipating since the day he got sick but weren’t actually ready for.
This whole merry-making season will never be the same again since Papa’s demise. I am, however, still thankful to Father God for He let me spend 26 Christmases of my life with a great man that is my one and only Papa:-)
Merry Christmas Papa Dearest!
Note: repost (December 2010)