(Blued column by â€œPrince Cedieâ€)
I used to wake up very early in the morning on Christmas days some three or four years ago. Back then, it felt so good to get up from my bed and let my chilly mornings be welcomed by the warm caring of my loving and thoughtful mother. My Mama would call me and if I didnâ€™t move or if I tried to go back to sleep, she would go near me and hug me. I would then rise as she serve my favorite seasonal breakfast: pasta, bread loaves with ham-flavored sandwich spread, juice or hot milk and her specialty, the super-sweet gelatin made from sea weeds. I would happily devour the foods while listening to the sound of Jose Mari Chanâ€™s Christmas in Our Hearts. After my hearty meal, she would go to the barangay chapel to help prepare for the Misa de Gallo. (Since the mass was held in the morning, we used to call it simbang umaga instead of simbang gabi.) I would then join my grandmother ( I fondly call her Nanay ), who by that time was done taking caring care of Tatayâ€™s food and other things, going to the barangay chapel to participate in the simbang umaga.
One more thing that used to excite me during those early Christmas mornings was the thought of seeing the angelic face of the girl I admire. I would always wait for her to throw me her sweet little smile after the mass, just when the dawn was breaking.
That girl, she was a great part of my high school life. Cold rainy days remind me of her. I used to wait for her to pass by our house and share with her a little space under her umbrella as we walked our way to the school. I used to consider her my inspiration.
But little did I know during those times that I would later be deprived of these two things that gave meaning to my Christmas. I never knew that the following Christmas in my life would be much different.
The high school girl who had that cute little smile, she finally dumped me off. Or maybe it was just me. Maybe I just finally realized that she wasnâ€™t really meant for me, for we didnâ€™tgo farther than the exchange of smiles and rainy day walks. Whatever the case might be, there was one thing for sure: even if she smiled at me on some other Christmas mornings after that, it could not be sweet anymore but a bitter one instead.
I wasnâ€™t prepared, however, for the darkest thing that would follow, something that was hundreds and hundred times worse than losing that beautiful girl with the now bitter little smile. It never occurred to me that the person who loved me most, my Mama, would be taken away from me.
I lost my mother in a sea accident one cold summer morning.
Although my Mama might have not really left me, for I was sure that even in the last breath of her life she was still thinking of me (otherwise, she would not have embraced the bag that contains the documents and money that would bring me to the college even when she was being swallowed by the waters); but how I terribly missed her presence.
So I would rather not write in details about the Christmas days that passed after I lost my Mama and the high school girl.
And now, as the Season approaches, ahead of me is another series of cold Christmas mornings. Of course, I will no longer wake up to her call. However, having accepted the things as they are now, I would still be able to welcome the chilly mornings with a smile on my face, for in my dreams, my Mama will have hugged me and served my favorite breakfast again. And then again, I will go with Nanay, after she takes care of Tatayâ€™s food and things, to the simbang umaga.
And as for the girl who used to have that sweet little smile, well, so much for her. Especially now that I know that when the New Year comes, there will be someone in the university whom I will be waiting for, not for a share under an umbrella, but to have an interesting talk with â€¦ under a mango tree.