Last Christmas was not as merry as it used to be when my grandparents and my parents were still around. My grandma usually prepared a special dinner: biterballen for appetizer, oxtail soup for one of the main courses, and pudding (to die for) for dessert. Grandpa played the organ and sang, my dad and the rest of us eating heartily. The house was stuffed by family members from Jakarta, my aunt’s family, and relatives. We made a cave from cement paper for the nativity, and we decorated a plastic Christmas tree. It was noisy – the pleasant kind of noise.
Years passed, one by one family members was gone, replaced by the new generation. The tradition lived on, year by year. Then it disappeared in thin air. My grandparents and parents were long gone, sustained by us who have turned to Dickensian characters void of the spirit of Christmas that we once had. My Christmas recently was reduced into just a slightly different day. I went to church, called my daughter and my brother, texted other family members and friends with “merry Christmas” messages, and gave small presents to few people. Oh, and I also bought myself some presents: a pair of glasses (because I recently lost the one pair I had), and a small tablet I named Olie. Apart from those, I did cry over what I had lost.
This note is my tribute to what I still have in this life. I am grateful that I have a beautiful and understanding daughter. It may take several lifetimes to return her kindness. I am lucky that I have three cool brothers who in their own ways look out for me. I am blessed that I still have an aunt, my dad’s sister, who represents a parent to me. From my mother’s side, I still have other aunts and uncles who once in a while reach out for me. Next year, if God allows, we will gather once again in a big family reunion. And… here in Bali, I have wonderful souls around me, some are angels, I believe, who never let me go astray.
Everything’s not lost, as Coldplay puts it, and I am still counting up my demons. I still have a hope. MERRY CHRISTMAS!