Monday, February 25, 2008

Crisis of Faith and the Christmas Miracle

father fernando suarez
I never wear a new dress for Christmas although I bought several for the occasion when I was still socially active attending a lot of parties. I wore them before Christmas eve. But for the actual Christmas day, you can see me wearing an old dress.

It was several Christmases ago when I was still a grader and my father was still alive when I adopted this self-imposed Christmas tradition of wearing old dress and giving food to our less fortunate relatives/neighbors.

I may have blogged about this but i can’t find it at the moment. I will be going to the hospital in a few hours from now for my CATscan and I thought that I might as well write the story again.

My father lost his job in December that year. He was assigned in Palawan and he could not bear the loneliness and homesickness being away from the family. Usually when he found a new job, he would relocate us after a few months. But not in the far-flung place. So he came home and never went back.

December was the worst month for job hunting.For the next few weeks, we subsisted on the savings of my mom. I still can remember that big red mail-box shaped-alkansiya full of coins that she kept near the family altar. (It is only now I realized why she did not want to keep any piggy bank in our home after that year. She believed that every time she had savings, some misfortunes happened to the family).

Some few hours before the Christmas eve, she instructed us to get dressed. Our Sunday dress. We got no new clothes for Christmas, no toys and not even a noche buena.

When I was older, she confessed that she suffered from the crisis of faith when we had only a few pesos left before Christmas. As an atonement and also to save some money for hot pan de sal, she convinced us to walk up to Quiapo.

We did enjoy walking, stopping every now and then to admire the Christmas decors and lights along the way.

All the time, what was running in my mind was the explanation I was preparing for my classmates when I go back to school after the holidays without a new dress to show. That’s Christmas for kids, isn’t it? New dress, new shoes and toys.

After the mass ,we went near the altar where there was this belen and the Infant Jesus “was wrapped in the swaddling clothes”. It impressed shame on my young mind that while the birthday celebrant was not wearing ostentatious clothes worthy for a King, there I was thinking of the perception of my snooty classmates about me having no new dress.

We came home. No one was in the house. My father was looking for us waiting at the bus stop. The table was laden with food courtesy of our neighbors.Then the miracle which I could only comprehend by listening to the conversation of the adults while enjoying the sumptous noche buena.

MY eldest brother who was growing up to be an atheist even he was still in high school, went to church not to attend mass. He joined the car-watch-boys in the church premises. After the mass, my brother’s “client” handed him the money and sped away. In the space when the car was, he saw an envelope with a Christmas card. The name written on top was his nickname. No last name. He opened the envelope, hoping that he could get the address of the car owner who had just left. Nothing. Just the name of the giver. That’s the name of my sister.
And inside the card was money. Big money. Much as he wanted to give it back, he had no clue to whom.

So we had Merry Christmas that year. Another good news was my father got a job. Yes, even though it was December. My mom kept the card. She bought yards of fabric and sewed me two beautiful dresses for the New Year. One was colored white with lavender flowers and the other one was with orange prints. Yep, I could remember even the styles because for me those were the beautiful dresses I had for a Christmas.

This is a repost from my NWC's December 18 entry.