Indeed, there is always, definitely, something to be thankful for.
Thank you to my neighbors, particularly to some of my childhood friends, thank you to newfound friends, and thank you to the senior citizens group in the neighborhood.
In my heydays, my house was like a hotel to me. I was always passing through—I sleep, take a bath, have breakfast, and get to eat dinner there sometimes.
I did try to have bonding time and space for my young children then, still I felt it was never enough.
I was never active in our community affairs which I left to my mother Bening who was the unofficial village head and later to my late brother Jimmy who was our barangay captain. Every now and then, I am asked to emcee the program on our fiesta or to lead in the novena to our patron saint, San Roque.
I was busy, busy, too busy working, socializing, doing Rotary work, and more. Weekends were spent re-energizing, sleeping and bonding with my nuclear family. Thus, except for some childhood friends and neighbors, I didn’t know my neighbors and they didn’t know me.
But now that I have officially retired (I actually retired very early from corporate life, that is, before I hit 50) and have more time to my days, I am rediscovering my neighborhood and my neighbors.
The other day I attended two wakes (which I never did before because I was afraid of ghosts and I found it useless to visit somebody I could not converse with plus I didn’t like the somber atmosphere). We had fun, without disrespecting the dead and their family. There were lots of reminiscing among my childhood friends and neighbors.
I am thankful that to this day, they, including some new people, have not forgotten the many good things that my mother and brother have done for the community. I am thankful that they acknowledge me and my sons and how we have served as inspirations to some of them to do their best to rise above their present situation. I am not surprised that they know many things about us, especially our little successes. One even philosophically said, “life is not a destination, it is a journey.” Thank you, you were all a part of my journey.
I am thankful for the efforts of the senior citizens’ group to pep themselves up and become useful members of the community. We had a Christmas street party which everybody enjoyed even if there were only two dance instructors to about 40 eager-to-dance ladies. I managed to dance the boogie. Thank you for a wonderful time. Thank you for the give-aways—ham and raffle prizes—and the modest merienda. Even the grandchildren of the seniors were able to partake of it as they sat behind their grandparents.
Thank you to my newfound dabarkads—Angie Toledo, Mae Caturan, Dina Balanag, Susan Burgos, Arlene Nantes-Saliendra, Gemma Retales, Marivic Cristobal and our little brother, Mico Cristobal, We had a great afternoon chatting, bonding and having fun the other day at Shakey’s and McDonald’s. Not to mention that every now and then for the past several months now, I have been hanging out with them in the store of Dina, just whiling away the time with lots of sharing of life experiences, food, bantering and joking.
This is a group of people who do not analyze and put a price tag on whatever you wear or eat. They readily share intimate life stories that one would consider deep dark secrets, theirs and that of other people in our community with nary a hint of judgment or a feeling that someone was gossiping about a neighbor. It is so matter of factly shared that I get the feeling that their precious lives are simply being shared with me because I am not a stranger. I have christened them Damas de las Chismosas. Hahahaha. Thank you, my dear friends. I don’t have to dress up and wear my pearls or guard my behavior and language when I am with them.
One of the biggest blessings in my life this 2016 is the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Having walked the paths and experienced first hand the places where Jesus was born, grew up, performed miracles, preached, suffered, and died gave my Christmas celebration a deeper meaning I deeply cherish. Happy birthday and thank you, Jesus. I am saving up for another visit.
This space is not enough, my gratitude box is full and so is my heart. Thank you to you, dear readers, and for our favorite newspaper, The Manila Times, and those who manage and work for it.
I am looking forward to 2017 with a heart full of hope. I know, the best is yet to come. Happy New Year!!!