Christmas and Hope

One time, the radio station called me live on air to speak about my thoughts on our practice of celebrating Christmas even as early as September. No doubt, ours is the longest in the world!

At the onset of the “ber” months, radio stations begin to play Christmas songs. And no, it does not end after Christmas day but continues up to January and even February, when Valentines day set it. That’s the only time when households begin to keep their Christmas decorations.

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Looking closely, I see that this shows our penchant for celebrations and festivities. Being the only Christian nation in Asia, we collectively hold in the highest regard the birth of Jesus. We look forward with merry anticipation the coming of the Savior and so we brightly adorn our surrounding with multi-colored lights and vibrant decorations.

And this is good. In a country like ours, where bad news overwhelms the good, we need something with which we can pin our hopes on. Truly, when I first heard a Christmas song a few days ago, it stirred in me a sense of euphoria, of images of reunion, of giving and sharing, and of a new beginning.

And so for most of us, celebrating Christmas early becomes a mechanism where we are able to cope with life’s harshness. No, it is not a denial of what is, but it is a testament that we can choose to be happy and merry even in the midst of hardships and trials. That our optimism best serves us as we focus on prosperity rather than despair.

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But this celebration of hope should teach us and propel us to action. The warm and exciting feeling that the season brings needs to be translated into better relationships and changed lives.

Hope is like oxygen, we cannot live without it, according to Shane J. Lopez, a researcher on hope. Her research together with colleagues shows that hope leads to everything from better performance in school, to more performance in the workplace, and to greater happiness overall.

And it makes sense. According to Lopez, “When we’re excited about ‘what’s next,’ we invest more in our daily life, and we can see beyond current challenges.” Unfortunately, only half of us measure in hope. But fortunately, it can be learned. And we Filipinos obviously show it best.

Hopeful people share four core beliefs, according to Lopez. First, they believe that the future will be better than the present. They look forward on what is to come, knowing that it brings more tidings than today.

Second, hopeful people believes that they have the power to make a better future. They see themselves as capable of bringing to life whatever they desire and hope for.

Third, hopeful people understands that there are many paths to reaching a better future. These people recognize that reaching the goal may take several turns and curves and there is no single road to actualizing the goal.

Lastly, hopeful people see that these paths to the future are not without obstacles. They are replete with theme. But regardless, they maintain their vision and work out to realize them.

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Let me be the first to greet all of you a Merry Christmas. Let us all look forward with hope to that day when Christmas is not just all about bright lights and gift giving, but truly a celebration with the Savior in heaven.

P.S. We are conducting a Young Couples Christian Life Seminar on Sunday, December 17, 2017. I am inviting young couples 40 years old and below to join. In a world where marriage and family is disintegrating, we need hope. Anyone interested, email me at kitbalane@boholchild.com or text 09988851339.

Kit Balane

Clinical Psychologist
President, Bohol Child Head Start Inc.