• The uninvited celebrant


    WHEN international celebrity Marilyn Monroe, in her sexy tight-fitting gold gown that hugged her shapely figure, in May of 1962, sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” the attention of the world was momentarily focused on her, but John F. Kennedy, 45, in whose honor the party was being given, was still at center stage, the man of the hour, where the spotlight was redirected. And rightly so. After all, he was the honoree.

    During this season, jolly old Santa Claus, with his famous white moustache, beard, and long curly hair, red baggy outfit and winter black boots, a most popular figure at Christmas, is given the glory. Every year, he gets the honor, and men, women, young and old, and children of all ages, have accepted him as a symbol of Christmas itself — holiday cheers, gifts, food, and merriment. He appears to have a monopoly of the reverence and the spotlight is mostly on him all throughout the festivity.

    It almost seems that without Santa Claus, there would not be any reindeer, no sleigh, no stockings, no gifts, and no Christmas. Ask any child, and that would invariably be the answer you get. Santa Claus is very important during this holiday. Without him there won’t be any Christmas. There won’t be any gifts. He is, after all, the bearer of gifts from the North Pole. That’s what the children are led to believe, unintentionally I am sure, but nonetheless that’s the subliminal vibe they get from us adults as they grow up in very this material world where priorities are sometimes twisted.

    Everything during the Christmas season, including our conversation and greetings, is about Santa, about parties, food, drinks, and gifts, and about all the material things we can buy in this highly commercialized world of today. Many of us hardly talk to our children and amongst ourselves about the true meaning of Christmas, the Birthday Boy, the celebrant Himself. About His wonders, His greatness, and His ultimate sacrifice for us.

    Are we off track focusing too much on ourselves, on the material and earthly things and too little on the sacredness of Christmas?

    Yes, I think we are, and, sadly, most inappropriately. We seem to have lost our focus, and Jesus, the celebrant, is often relegated to the background, even forgotten during His own birthday party. Shopping, food and merriment preoccupy and overwhelm everybody’s mind during this holiday. The honoree, the Main Event, the very reason why we are celebrating in the first place, is no longer on center stage. Sometimes, I feel that we have even neglected to invite Him to His own party. In many cases, He is nowhere to be found, because He may not be a conscious priority on our mind on this busy and festive occasion. The sheer joy of the celebration and the loud Ho! Ho! Ho! seem to have drowned Him out. We seem to be missing the significance and the holiness of it all.

    Isn’t it time to put the birthday Boy back on center stage, where He belongs, and to honor Him in the right spirit? After all, this is His party. And we are only His guests.

    To one and all, a Very Merry CHRISTmas, and to our Santo Nino in the manger: Happy Birthday, and thank you for the gift of life and for blessing us once again with the privilege of being invited to your celebration.

    About the author: Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and former Chairman of Cardiac Surgery, Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital, is past president of the Association of Philippine Physicians in America, the Society of Philippine Physicians in America, and Editor Emeritus of The Philippine Surgeon magazine. He is a founder of the Filipino American Initiative to Transform our Homeland (FAITH), and the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA humanitarian foundation (www.FUN8888.com). He wrote medical articles for the Manila Times Medical Magazine, Health News, edited by Dr. Patricia Gatbonton.

    Visit philipSchua.com and email him at scalpelpen@gmail.com.


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    1. Johnny Agustin on

      You make me laugh! Its true that Dec 25 is not the birthday of Jesus! There are no concrete evidence that Christ was born on this day and month! Have a research and you’ll find none. So its only fitting for man made Santa Claus! Its a pagan way of celebrations! By golly…naman oo, indio talaga sabi ng mga espanol!

      • Your comment doesn’t make any sense. Stop playing God posting comment and hiding behind your computer. At this point in time in Philippine history nobody should mention the term “Indio”, that is outright racism and idiotic.

      • Justaskingseriously on

        Johnny Agustin, why are you laughing? Laughter is normally the human response to a stand up comedian’s lines. Humans laugh when a truth “surprises” them just like “Digong’s” listeners laughed at his cusses. When the surprise factor fades, humans regret having laughed. “How could I have been so stupid? Mothers are being made the butt of the jokes! Nothing funny about that.

        Just like birthday celebrations. There is really nothing funny anymore. The birth is a fact. The dates no longer matter. The actual date has been swallowed by the past. “The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is — all that he did and suffered for all men — participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1085). You ask how this happens? Well, the same paragraph #1085 starts with “In the liturgy of the Church…” And the event of Christ’s birth is referred to in the “liturgy” as “CHRISTMAS” — the Mass is where Christ’s birth is being made present. La fecha nada importa. The exact date really does not matter. As to the popular “Santa Claus”, Saint Nicholas is imitated for his gift-giving. His name is Kris Kringle in German. In Pilipino, his name could be your own name — unless you are a Scrooge.

    2. Gloria M. Kuizon on

      Very very good Sunday Read, Dr. Chua. God bless you. Have a happy, blessed and memorable Christmas.