Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Work of Christmas

In as much as Christmas is already almost a month ago, allow me to share with you my favorite Christmas song.  The Work of Christmas of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry (originally a poem by Howard Thurman) doesn’t talk about a white Christmas, chestnuts and reindeers.  These things bring the festive mood of Christmas and we need to hear some happy cheer at this most wonderful time of the year.  But Christmas stands for so much more and what I like most of the song is it talks about the true meaning of Christmas:

When the song of angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back
With their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost, to heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, free the prisoners,
To rebuild nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

When the song of angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings of princes are home,
When the shepherds are back
With their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.

For me, my work of Christmas is our yearly visit to hubby’s college immersion family.  They are vegetable farmers in Madlum, Bulacan.  We usually go there during the Christmas break.  Hubby has been visiting them every year since his immersion 8 years ago.  The head of the family, whom we warmly call Kuya Robert is one of our wedding sponsors.  And during my 3rd visit, three things come to mind:

Hubby with Venice, Nana Kambal and Celine
1)    How awesome my husband is.  Hee hee!  Okay, okay – I know I just sounded like a groupie but not everyone who went through the immersion program in our university has this kind of a relationship with their immersion family.  I sure don’t.  I think it just speaks loads about the kind of person my husband is in some indescribable way. 

Our favorite Biya! Yum, yum, yum!
2)    Generosity need not come from material wealth.  Every time we go there Kuya Robert’s family prepare a feast for us – even when the recent rains have swept away months’ hardwork and they don’t have any vegetables left to sell for their livelihood.  I don’t know for you, but for me is just pure generosity.  

Beautiful Madlum
3)    Hope lives even in the direst of situations.  Kuya Robert’s family does not have a steady source of income.  Farming is very volatile especially because it is utterly dependent on the ever-changing climate. Ate Aning (Kuya Robert’s wife) is even in the process of finding employment abroad.  In spite of the hopelessness of their situation, and yes they are aware that life is more than tough for them, you will never sense desperation, depression or hopelessness.  I spend a month not working and I feel like my world’s falling apart.

After that visit, it really got me thinking what could be a more sustainable form of income for their family?  I just think it’s funny for a mini-messiah complex coming up within me.  But really it is a genuine desire to help a family and hubby and I do try.

The Madlum Family on a Wacky Pose
But really what our relationship with Kuya Robert and Ate Aning is not about alleviating their poverty, but for them as persons and as our family.  And because of our friendship, hopefully they will be a little enriched.  But one thing I’m sure of, that at the end of the day, just by our friendship, I feel a little bit more human and they give me something I will always be grateful for: they do their work of Christmas in me.


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