Amidst all the grim and scandalous news happening in the world, with its wars, rivalries, violence and hatred that affect nations, races, as well as families, nothing can ever stop the celebration of this epoch-making event… It’s CHRISTMAS once again! On this day, Christians across the globe come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

In the Philippines, the merriment and cheer start as early as September and end only after the feast of the Epiphany. Streets are adorned with Christmas lights and glitter, while most of the malls play Christmas songs. Catholics anticipate the nine days before Christmas by assisting at Dawn Masses (Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo) beginning December 16 and culminating on Christmas Eve.

Walking towards the church at dawn, one takes in the air filled with morning mist. Vendors selling rice cakes and other delicacies ply their trade on street corners. It is truly a special occasion that people eagerly celebrate with their family and loved ones because of the festive atmosphere that accompanies it.

The Christmas celebration of holding parties and gift-giving has also spread to the work environment. Most offices in our cities will normally be in a frenzy to source gifts, wrap them up and send them off to their intended recipients even weeks before Christmas itself. There will be an exchange of gifts among the office staff during the Christmas program aside from the customary Yuletide meal.

But who will or should take center stage during this season of celebration? It is none other than that little baby boy – the Son of God – born of a virgin and conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we turn the spotlight on the Holy Family, we remember how Mary and Joseph devoted their entire lives to him in one great act of love so that Jesus –Love Incarnate – could be born and come into this world.

This is the real message of Christmas: a family giving Love. Thus Christmas will always be a time of giving. It is also the time to forgive and forget all offenses committed against us. Christmas will always be a time to render thanks for all the blessings that we and our family have received during the year. Most of all, it is the best time to gather our families together so that the warmth and affection of each relationship is rekindled.

All too often, most family conflicts stem from the failure of family members to communicate with one another. This happens when a family member cares more about one’s own interests rather than prioritizing his or her loved-ones’ concerns.

Most failed relationships in the family occur because of an absence of love. As St. John of the Cross declared, “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.” So, let us take the initiative, no matter how difficult or absurd it is, to be the first one to love.

The glitter, the colored lights and the Christmas trees are but trappings of this joy-filled season. However, the genuine meaning of Christmas is felt only when we can transform our hearts from being mere recipients to becoming donors of LOVE. No matter who we are or how we celebrate the event, it is our act of love that transforms Christmas into a truly joyous event for all. So this coming Yuletide season, be sure to give love and you will truly experience what the Christmas spirit is all about!

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