Thursday, December 20, 2007

Meet Scroogette

My mother loves Christmas. Once the "ber" months roll in, there's no stopping her rabid Christmas spirit from insinuating itself into our hapless household. She starts playing Christmas carols full blast on the living room stereo as early as September. Her Christmas shopping is done by mid-October. The tree, a mind-boggling confection of rust and orange this year, is up by early November, and the gifts are all wrapped and ready for opening by December 1.

I am the anti-thesis of my mother.

I don't know, maybe it's because my mom is such a fanatic about Christmas that she sucks all of the excitement unto herself and doesn't leave much for stragglers like me. But the truth is, I haven't been excited about Christmas since... oh, I'm not sure. Maybe it was when my mother started turning the tree into a decor showcase for Home magazine. Or when I stopped having Christmas vacations. Or maybe it was when I started to spend Christmas immersed in the misery of the patients I work with in the hospital. Having to work with people who have so little just highlights how much of what goes on during this season seems like such a waste.

Whatever the reason, I have become family Scroogette.

It's December 20, and I have yet to start shopping for Christmas presents - wait, I haven't even made my list yet! I look to the coming reunions with dread because I will be banished to the kitchen once more to cook for the posse of relatives who are coming over on Christmas day (with no hospital duty to shield me). Family reunions also mean having to parry the inevitable awkward questions that tactless relatives pose to a hopelessly single, thirty-something niece like me. Meeting up with long lost friends, while refreshing, also serve to remind me that we are no longer who we used to be and that for the most part we just have memories among us and that, under all the laughter, is just sad.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Christmas per se. I do enjoy the parties, the gift giving, the taking time out to reconnect with friends and family. Like any other person, I am not proof to sight of the pretty lights around the city or the enticing smell of seasonal goodies in the air. I do appreciate that, for the first time in several years, I will not have to spend any of the major Christmas holidays on duty at the hospital.

But sometimes, even surrounded by all this happy activity, I can't help but wonder how much of this joyful energy is touched by desperation. It may be cynical, but I can't help but conclude that when it comes to celebrating Christmas, all of us are missing the point.

Whatever. I'm off to face the hopelessly snarled Manila traffic and give new meaning to the phrase panic buying.


morks said...

hi! thanks for dropping by :) i know how you feel. i was scrooge's alter ego for a while a few weeks back. hope you still enjoy the break.

i have a cousin pala who's a doctor. she just passed the boards last year and i was witness to her lack of a social life ever since she entered med school. hehe. so im really surprised to read about a doctor like you who blogs! :) i added you up also in my links page.


Manggy said...

Aw, Dr. Claire, I hope you found the gifts you were looking for. I can't help but notice a lot of these troubling thoughts is a by-product of other people's opinions.

Whether we were doctors or not, people have been suffering through tragedies they didn't deserve since forever. We did/do what we could/can to help them, but honestly they have no use for our ennui. "Can it," they'd probably say (if they spoke like I did), "and save it for someone who could use your misery. And those people are your enemies. I'd rather see you enjoy yourself, because you're such a kind doctor. Life is too short, as evidenced by: you know, ME." Ha ha. I'm morbid. But it's true. Imagine if you had a daughter. At what age do you think would it be appropriate for her to stop enjoying Christmas? We do our best to provide a meaning for those around us, and if it's desperation and despair, aren't we all screwed?

Family: "It's your fault for not setting me up with anyone cute, nanang." Say it jokingly, not meanly, haha :)

Friends: Interesting things happen to us all the time. And if not, we'll always have (I hope) interesting dreams. I'm not the reminiscing type (despite what you read). If all their bukang-bibig is work, work, work, then oh my God, that's terrible, but I can still listen to it intently.

I consider myself to be conscientiously religious, but I'm not concerned with giving/ receiving gifts/ decorating/ caroling/ yes, even cooking. I don't have enough money to keep up with any of it. What I can do is spend quality time with my family, who are usually working except for this extended weekend, and show them my love through food and laughter. If they take it against me that I don't have many gifts to give, then that's just sad.

dr_clairebear said...

manggy: you're right, i really just need to put this holiday in perspective. :) maybe i just feel so scroogette-y because i'm totally devoid of the warm and fuzzy feeling everyone seems to exhibit come December. i have decided on a mantra, "I will enjoy Christmas." Hmmm... too many words. I think I'll stick with "Ohm." Btw, I was able to pick up toys for my godchildren - half the battle won right there. I just hope I got them right in my head and everything is age-appropriate.

ris - med school is a black hole. it sucks you into it and it's like you're in some alternate universe until it decides to spit you out... and you find out that the world as you know it has changed drastically. i've very recently managed to escape from the clutches of the medical black hole, but i've been away so long, i'm not sure if i am still capable of normal. and yet i see people like manggy who escape before me and are now normal... so there is hope. :)glad you're no longer in a scroogey mood! :)

MegaMom said...

Haaay, Claire, we better have that talk soon... a lot of negative vibe coming from here lately, hehe. Makes for a lot of well-written, thought-provoking posts, but very bad for the soul.
Try to enjoy yourself and hang in there until we can talk, k? Just switch off those nosey relatives. A glass of wine (or two, or three) usually helps. :)
P.S. I'm not even halfway through my Christmas shopping either (breathe in, breathe out...) but I will not stress over it.