Presence, more than the presents

Who could’ve imagined that that scary virus outbreak we’ve been hearing about in China as early as January last year will turn out to be a global pandemic that affected millions of lives everywhere. COVID-19 may have infected and killed numbers unimaginable, but it’s as if the fluctuating stats and the discovery of a new strain weren’t enough to scare people away from celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve, especially here in the Philippines, where we have the earliest and longest holiday celebration.

Last December, people must have thought the pandemic is about to come to an end. The year’s last stretch saw the malls packed and with long queues of shoppers on a holiday rush forgetting to observe social distancing. Traffic went really bad leading to the holidays you’d think “what health crisis?” Churches were overflowing with catholic devotees both early mornings and nights not wanting to break the “Simbang Gabi” tradition. The only striking difference is that people were sporting face masks and face shields.

And if there’s anything that this deadly virus has changed in the most celebrated season of the year, is that we’ve come to really appreciate the presence — of being surrounded by family and friends, more than the presents — the gifts or stuff that we’ve been wanting to receive.

Most will remember 2020 to be a tragic year, with so many misadventures we all thought could only happen in movies yet happening in real life. What seems to be a problematic year, cares to teach us life lessons we didn’t think we’ll ever need.

The quarantine and lockdown taught us to keep it together with the family, to be self-sufficient, be there for them. It also taught us to reach out and make more meaningful connections. Losing a job doesn’t mean losing everything, it taught us to shape up, learn new things, and start creating our own opportunities. It wasn’t easy of course, but the more we need to be persistent, to keep at it until you get the job or get the job done. The health risks taught us to not only think of our own safety but of others. It compelled us to make our health our top priority. By being accountable, more careful as you care for others, and becoming a more responsible member of the community/society, you help prevent the spread of the virus. These are only a few, but the list goes on.

So yes, 2020 must have been a bad, forgettable year, but it also somewhat toughened us for what uncertainties the new year will bring. Last year was a crazy mix of tears and laughter, but we’re ready for you 2021.

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