What-ifs for a New Year

It’s still Christmas in our home. As it always is this time of the year, for as far as I can remember. I am still wrapping and sending out presents. And I have reason to believe I am not alone because every now and then presents are still being delivered to our door. I feel it is this time of the year that is iffy still — already back to normal but still somehow suspended on the carpet ride that was Christmas. Heaven knows when I will be done with everything, and I shift from being in a rush to get it over and done with to accepting that, as it is, I am already way behind schedule. I comfort myself with the thought that the Chinese New Year is not until February. I have that as a deadline.

Christmas was crazy busy; this year, it huffed and it puffed and there were days when it was downright draining physically. But it was also so happy, in ways that I cannot quantify. And I like being in a world that seems so happy.  Maybe that is why I hum Christmas songs when I feel sad, why I wrap presents when I am tired or stressed. That is also why I need not explain further why I put the trees up on Nov. 3 and keep them there until Valentine’s Day. That is just the way it is here in our home.

Each day nowadays I come home to a busy Christmas village twinkling on a long table by the wall and right across it on the far end is a door that leads to the area where I wrap gifts and where the Christmas trees are. Under that cluster of trees are all our gifts (except for Juliana’s because she has opened all of hers). Yes, I have yet to open Richard’s and my gifts, including those I got for my birthday since I am a December baby. And I love peeling away this last layer of Christmas sloooooowly, as if it were the last piece of chocolate I will ever have in a very long time. I unwrap the gift, usually one or two per day, and the season is further extended. Today I opened a birthday present — a Clarisonic face and body polisher (which I’ve always wanted!) from Doc Vicki and Cristalle Belo and last night, I unwrapped lovely earrings from Jasper and Shera.  From time to time I find food under the Christmas tree — nuts, a box of fruitcake, pastillas, all wrapped as if they were not perishable items. Those food items are okay, they have a long shelf life. But days before Christmas I actually found pieces of rellenong bangus in a paper bag under the tree! I was helping Juliana locate a gift she wanted to open and I chanced upon them poor things. They did not seem spoiled yet but I didn’t want to take a chance so those had to go. What a waste. It was sad.

So. This is where I am now — my mind and my days as busy as the wrappers and ribbons on my worktable, basically still scrambling to finish everything before the Chinese New Year rolls by. I eat fruitcake (which I love very much, by the way) as I work, and I listen to old songs. There is a happy mess at home. I live the life of a flight attendant week after week, flying in and out of Manila to and from the district I represent. I take it all a day at a time, so life does not overwhelm me.

Today as I sat at my very long worktable alternately wrapping presents and writing cards, my mind went the way of what-ifs. What if I got pregnant with twins? What if I never stopped taking piano lessons? What if I wasn’t so shy, or scared of the things that truly frighten me now that I know really are not so frightening in the long run? What if God still spoke to each one of us in a deep, audible voice the way he did during the time of the prophets? (This one I really like.) What if I worked for Martha Stewart? But perhaps my most fun what-if would be along the lines of what if I really knew how to sing? Not just carry a tune but really sing beautifully, the way Regine Velasquez does.  What if God gave me a temporary pass, say a 24-hour window once every three years? During that whole 24-hour day I would sing, as beautifully as a perfect night. And of course I’d sing for a crowd. Yes, attached to that temporary talent will be the courage to sing with confidence before a huge crowd. I’d climb up a piano in a slinky gown, with only my voice and red lipstick as my best friends, and there’d be a smoke machine to make me look all dreamy on that stage.  Every moment of that night I will cherish, especially because I know it is just a magical pass, a shot at a fantasy come true. I would not belt out songs, I would just sing them, telling the story that way. In my repertoire would be The Nearness of You, I’ll Be Seeing You, Moon River, most of the songs on Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook.”

But that is just a what-if, in fantasy mode no less, and the closest I can get to that is to actually learn a song. Even just one song that I can sing decently. Heaven knows when I will have the courage to even start learning. I am fascinated by singers. I don’t know why. Maybe because even when they are 98 years old, all stooped and wrinkled as a prune, they will be able to sing still! When I am 98 years old and all stooped and wrinkled, I will be just that — 98, stooped, and wrinkled. I know I will have my own story inside of me but how lovely if I could sing! So since I am still in my 30s I might as well learn just one song I can sing well enough while I shower. For my own pleasure.

And that, in a nutshell, is what I will embrace for 2013 — to devote more time to things that make me feel alive.  Things I will pursue just because they make me happy.  2012, with all its many blessings, was a very busy year, so much that I barely had quality time to spend with family and friends. Even if it was in no way less beautiful it was also very hectic. This year I am hoping for more of a balance. A time for everything; or more importantly maybe, the wisdom to choose what I should have in my life and the time to enjoy all that.

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