The true joy
While stuck in the middle of Christmas rush traffic somewhere in A.S. Fortuna in Mandaue, I saw this group of workers coming out from the gate of what looks like a factory or warehouse. They were all wearing the same brand new T-shirts that bore a big company logo. Both of their hands were clutching bags of groceries, gifts still wrapped, and small gadgets that must have been won at the raffle.
On top of all this loot, they were all trying to drag a big sack of rice to the side of the street where they all tried to get their load into a jeepney or tricycle. Not one among them seemed to hail a taxi. First of all, it was hard getting an empty cab. And if there’s one, it would be an expensive ride as they would be stuck in the traffic jam. On the other hand, there’s always a jeepney or tricycle passing by.
As the jeepney stopped to pick them up, passengers willingly helped passed their bags and sack of rice, dragging them on the aisle. The tricycle drivers also never refused taking those workers, who easily loaded the big sack of rice on the wrought iron rack at the rear of the cab. I was happy to see those guys managed to go home with all those goodies that were more than what Santa himself would probably carry.
Yet, it was certainly not an easy task, trying to balance your arms laden with such loads of gifts as you commute on your way home. But those people did not seem to complain. In fact, they all looked happy, smiling or laughing at each other as they waited for a ride.
I imagined they must have had fun with the usual parlor games and obligatory talent presentations at their Christmas party. And most likely, they had lechon at the buffet dinner. Perhaps, they also received their Christmas bonus or 13th month pay that same day.
Judging from the many gifts that they were all bringing home that day, it seemed that their employers were generous or kind. I mean, it’s not often that you see ordinary workers bring home a sack of rice along with the usual gifts after a company Christmas party.
We often take these scenes for granted during Christmas. After all, everyone is rushing to get to the next party or to go shopping for gifts at the malls. It’s normal to see people in the streets overladen with shopping bags and gifts. Indeed, it’s the busiest time of the year. And the worst time to be caught in the streets at night in the monstrous traffic jams that seem to be happening everywhere.
And yet, it’s when we look closely at the faces of those ordinary people that we are reminded of the true joy of Christmas. It is in the smile of the overseas Filipino worker arriving at the airport with oversized bags full of “pasalubong.” It is also in the same smile of the factory worker trying to squeeze a big sack of rice and bags of gifts while looking for a seat in an already cramped Multicab jeepney.
Those smiles remind us of the joy of the simple carpenter and his pregnant wife as they finally found a place to spend the night in after being rejected by inns and homes in Bethlehem. Unfortunately, this place they found was a manger, a shelter for animals. And yet, it was here that Jesus was born into a poor family. In becoming human, God chose to be among the simple folk, those who find joy in spite of poverty and suffering.
The first Christmas was all about spreading this joy to the rest of the world.
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