Christmas the Whole Year Round

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

This is a real story of celebrating Christmas the whole year round. Many years ago, I got a letter from a parishioner with an extraordinary request. She was a nurse working outside of the country. Where she was assigned there were no masses available. In fact they could not publicly practice their religion. She was asking for a cassette tape of a mass being celebrated in the parish. The Filipina nurses in her dorm missed the mass so much that they would settle even for an audio-taped version. I recorded the Christmas midnight mass. This group of nurses gathered around the tape recorder every Sunday and they celebrated Christmas the whole year round.

Action starter: Tell the Christmas story to a child.

For many of us, Christmas is connected with glad and sometimes sad sentiments. Dating back to our childhood, Christmas meant gifts, parties, games, reunions, Christmas carols, and dawn masses, particularly here in the Philippines. It could be sad when we celebrate Christmas away from home, or a loved one was absent from the celebration, or we did not receive the gift that we expected. As children we even wished that Christmas were the whole year round – the joyful part at least.

Some say that the longest celebration of Christmas is here in the Philippines. Christmas carols are heard as early as November. The celebration builds up during the dawn masses. The midnight mass serves as the climax and extra efforts are made to portray the Christmas scene when the Gloria is sung or the Gospel is read – never mind what liturgists say. A star is often rigged to slowly move towards the Christmas crib where a privileged family or parishioner dramatically places the Baby Jesus. After the mass, the family goes home for the traditional “noche buena” meal.

What makes Christmas beautiful is that it comes once a year. It is not the whole year round. Rituals retain their meaning when they define certain times and places as sacred or out of the ordinary. Christmas retains its religious meaning and its cultural significance as long as we still look forward to celebrating it – every December.

In ordinary language we say that today “Christ is born”. It might be more proper to say that today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Strictly speaking, Christ was born about two thousand years ago However, allegorically speaking, we can still say that Christ is born today. He is being born in the minds and hearts of children who visit the Christmas crib. Christ is being born in the hearts of young adults, who this Christmas might be touched by the Spirit to rediscover their religious faith. Christ is being born as older people retell the Christmas story to the younger ones.

Let us tell again the Christmas story. The story of Jesus varies the whole year round but Christmas captures a beautiful and joyful part of that story.