Am I the only one who feels that 2012 went by too fast? What will 2013 bring?
I have a recent experience to share with you, which happened during the peak of December’s busyness. It was unremarkable, an evening like most any, marked only by the fact that I instinctively resisted it not for what it was but for what it represented — more time spent away from the already precious little I had with my family thus far. Just when it was supposed to be a respite, a singular quiet pause after a flurry of dizzying activities that were stacked one on top of the other day after day, I had to be elsewhere suddenly, yet again. It drove the point home when I least wanted it to, that my time really was no longer my own. Although I had already come to terms with that, for the most part, a long time ago it is somehow harder to deal with during Christmas when the premium really is/should be family time. With a little sigh in my heart I climbed into a big, quiet van that droned steadily into the deep night, reaching into long stretches of winding road that promised to open up into a happy fiesta somewhere. En route, I was thankful for the company I had, a mix of family and good friends. There was comfortable silence in the van as we all tried to catch up on sleep, no real heavy conversation to speak of, just bursts of laughter here and there after recalling classic stories we’ve gotten used to reliving during trips like this.
After what seemed like half a forever, the quiet roads we traveled did lead to a very happy scene — and at that point the fiesta we found ourselves in felt very much like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was everything December should be — happy, with lots of people smiling and laughing, singing, swaying to music; there was even a beauty contest happening somewhere in one corner. It was a money contest, we would later find out, and I was to crown the queen. But first, we were led to a home. It was modest and clean, and the scent of cooking food greeted us, making me realize I was very hungry. Food was overflowing, it came out endlessly from that little kitchen in a parade of colorful containers. Both children and adults were busy helping out in the kitchen, that one kitchen that for the night fed the entire partying community (there easily was 400 to 500 people). The lady of the house led Richard to the kitchen and I saw him poring over someone who was frying lots of pork, cut up in very big cubes, in a huge kawa. We were asked to sit down and enjoy a meal, which we welcomed after that very long drive, and no sooner had we warmed our seats when plates and bowls were placed before us. The pork cubes were shiny with oil that had yet to be drained, inviting us to get on to it. There was rice, a dipping sauce made of patisand native vinegar plus green chilis plucked from a plant that grew right in their front yard, a fragrant soup we call pakdol (made with carabao meat and lots of ginger), chilled Coca-Cola enjoyed with a straw from the sexy bottle — all that together just made for a gorgeous meal. It was perfect, and was easily one of the best I had in months. It was hard to resist more servings; that dry adobo was fantastic in its simplicity. We would later find out that it was but the first step; the fried pork was to be drowned in Sprite and smothered with more spices on its way to its reincarnation as humba. The host asked us to wait a few more hours so we could taste that specialty of hers but we were stuffed and sated, and the dream of enjoying humba in her home at a later date was all we could muster at that point. Oh, we will definitely be back for that.
After that we trooped out of the house like happy cows and watched the tail end of the money pageant. The host was naturally funny and murdered the pronunciation of every name that passed his lips, poked fun at everyone present (himself included), and it was all good. He had this open, happy spirit that was so infectious and palpable and a big smile to boot. We crowned the queen and congratulated her runners-up, all of who seemed just as jubilant as the queen herself and we left that happy place feeling very much like we could take on the world again. Food and laughter: they are the best medicine for the weary. As I lay down to sleep that night, I knew that all was as it should be. The night that did not start out so happy in my mind proved to be just that, plus more. It was Christmas in December indeed, even if I had to be away from home.
Now I do not know what 2013 will bring, but I have every hope that it will be even bigger and better and more beautiful than 2012 was. And this early I already know how I will meet and carry it through. I know there will be times when it will be less than perfect, and that there will be countless situations, too, when I will have to again be somewhere that will take me away from where I really want to be. But when that happens I will close my eyes and remember the December night that I just told you about. That night when I was fully present in the moment. That night when the moment I climbed into the van I surrendered to what lay ahead, ready to embrace it. I will remember all of that when half of me will want to fight where life finds me. Then every moment can be beautiful and good, in one or two of the many ways it can possibly be, because really, things do have a way of working out wonderfully in the end.
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