Banong hates Christmas. No matter what you say you cannot convince him that it’s worth celebrating Christmas. He also hates New Year’s celebration. He just can’t stand his dogs barking afraid of the crackling of firecrackers and all the noise of merry-making around the neighborhood. He is not necessarily an unbeliever for he is a practicing Christian. He attends Church regularly and give donations to charity as needed. He does not quarrel with anybody. He simply does not want the commercialization of Christmas where materialism counts more than faith and spirituality.
“Christ does not deserve to be remembered on Christmas day alone,” said Banong. Everyday of the year is a Christmas day. The moment you wake up in the morning you must say your prayer and ponder upon the birth of Christ and the sacrifice He did for Humanity. You must thank the father too for sending His only begotten son so that all those who believes in Him shall not perish but shall see His Kingdom and will live an eternal life. This is what Banong means by having Christmas everyday in your life.
If there is something Banong hates about Christmas is the commercialization in the commemoration of the birth of the Saviour. Businessmen are raking billions of dollars each year by selling everything associated with Christmas from simple toys to those lavish Christmas decorations. Banong cannot simply stand the waste of energy each year for just simply lighting Christmas lights. He cannot stomach the “paganistic” way of celebrating Christmas with Karaokes, drinking alcohol, too much eating, and the noise of merry making devoid of praise and worship to the Lord. It is not God
This year Banong did not receive his bonus as promised by the government. But he did not lament. If ever he will receive it later he will donate a portion of it for medical and dental mission.
But something happened to Banong on Christmas Eve. After attending Church service (the only way he celebrates Christmas) he immediately went home to rest. He is living alone as his wife and children are all in the States. He expects his family to give him a phone call and to greet him a Merry Christmas. The pastor gave him a bag of groceries including a Keso de Bola. It is not an ordinary one but the most expensive Keso de Bola in the store. A few more blocks to his home he saw a family on a cart eating and sharing what appears to be a plate of rice and small can of sardines. Only those who live in a hand to mouth existence can afford to have this kind of Noche Buena. Something struck his heart. But before he could say anything the family quickly invited him to feast with them.
“Merry Christmas sir, come and join us with our Noche Buena.”
The invitation was sincere. Banong’s heart melted. He used to have Noche Buena with his family. But when they left him for the States and live alone he did not have a Christmas dinner any more. His mind said leave them alone but his heart told him to remain. He joined them. He brought out bread, biscuits and the big Keso de Bola in his bag. The family refused him at first but later they accepted his offer and feasted with his food stuff.
“You know sir each year we have been dreaming to eat a Keso de Bola, only this year that God has answered our prayer,” the father of three children said as he cut the ball of cheese into parts. The children enjoyed it very much. The wife cried as she ate an expensive cookies with a piece of cheese. Banong however only ate their rice and sardines.
While eating Banong learned that the family lost their home during the typhoon Ondoy when it flooded their place. The couple was grateful that they were able to save their children and their cart.
“At least we have a home, a place to stay and spend the Christmas Eve,” the children said.
But Banong did not leave them that night. He invited them to his house and enjoy all the luxury he has. Children took a bath and he gave them the clothes his children have gown up.
“Hulog po kayo ng langit sa amin ngayong Pasko (Sir, you are God sent to us this Christmas),” the couple told him.
Banong only smiled at them but deep in his heart he found relief. God showed him the way how to remember His birth. Banong may have thought all he had been doing as a Christian was enough until he had this experience. God showed him what he still lacks, he is not connected with people. The light in him is his alone. He never shared the light and the love of Christ to others specially the poorest of the poor.
The phone rang. His family in the States was at the other end greeting him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But this time there is a glow in his heart. Now he knows what Christmas means and how to be a real Christian.