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The Reason for Christmas


By Deedee Siytangco

If you want to change the world, go home and love the family. —St. Mother Teresa

Thank you, Lord, for this coming Christmas Day!

Despite our mistrust of each other, simmering hatreds because of differences in ideologies and political leanings, the economic hardships most of us experience in our daily lives, it’s still awesome to be again preparing to welcome our Savior’s birth—as it was in the little town of Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.

While we usually think of Christmas as a peaceful event, Pope Francis reminds us that it wasn’t so. Joseph had to be told by an angel that it was alright to make the Virgin Mary his spouse and that the child she was bearing was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was going to be the Savior of Mankind. They had to flee to Bethlehem but they couldn’t find any room in the inns so Joseph had to settle for a stable to shelter his family.

King Herod was after the baby Jesus, so that after His birth, Joseph and Mary had to flee again to escape the murderous monarch. But amid this background of fear and apprehension and murderous intentions, the Star shone brightly in the sky as a beacon of hope and a message of peace and goodwill.

May this message of love and hope prevail long after this beautiful season is over!

By the way, I am so glad that the Holy Family is once more “fashionable” in many shop windows, like in the one designed and executed by Clang Garcia in New York city for the DOT, and in some commercial buildings n Makati. I hope next year, they can truly stage a “comeback,” don’t you?

* * *

I was in Vancouver last week to be with my son Junie, his wife Cora, and their two boys Monchu and Miggy. It was family bonding time, and despite breaking out in spots because of the unusually cold weather, I survived and enjoyed my visit. Thank you to my daughter Sandee for accompanying me on this “apostolic” visit and being able to reassure myself that indeed, my boy’s family was doing well.

We were able to watch my eldest grandson Monchu, 19, swim in a competition in Whistler, too. He did well. This lola is very proud of him, his determination to excel in the sport, his patience in waking up in the early morning hours—even in freezing weather—to practice, practice, practice! He is also in the Special Olympics but competes in regular swim meets, too.

* * *

Our family is saddened by the demise of our dear, dear auntie, Lourdes “Nelly” Asuncion Intengan Jhocson at age 101.
She was the only sister of our mother, Paz Intengan Munson, who died at age 92 nineteen years ago. Her husband was Teodoro Jhocson of the family that founded the National University.

Nelly Jhocson

Nelly Jhocson

Nelly was a wonderful human being who was smart, confident, funny, and caring. She and her husband Teddy loved to play golf and she won a lot of trophies at the sport. She also had numerous “wards,” each one went to school because of the couple’s benevolence. She was a champion at Scrabble, even during her aging years. She was my godmother at my baptism and again at our wedding and when we celebrated our silver anniversary, too.

And, like her, I am named Lourdes.

We had happy moments together and the last time we came to see her was at her 101th birthday dinner given by her nephews Gabby and Danny Intengan. She was all dressed up and in a jovial mood, trying to remember who we were—she succeeded!—and enjoyed having her pictures taken. Good night, Tita Nelly. It was wonderful sharing your life. Sleep well in heaven!
Another “goodbye” that hurt was the passing of my very good friend Angelita Pontiveros Salcedo, founder of Angeliglass. She popularized hand-blown glass for ordinary folks and branched into making beautiful, decorative objects, trophies, and plaques. I guess Someone up there needed another angel!

* * *

We recently celebrated the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of our country, the Americas, and Mexico. More than 500 years ago, on Dec. 9, 1531, she appeared to a shepherd named Diego in Tapayac, Mexico. In several apparitions, she asked him to build her a church and help her give the lives of the people to Jesus.

The tilma, or seamless shawl that Diego used to bring the fresh roses Mary caused to grow in the cold mountaintop, revealed her portrait to the bishop Zurmaraga who asked for such a sign of her presence. It is still miraculously intact today. Our Lady’s portrait remains as clear as the day it appeared. So many scientists have examined the tilma, which now hangs high above an altar in her church in Tepayac. They have come to only one conclusion: The cloth and colors of the portrait are not of earthly origins, despite the fact that the agave fiber of the tilma is usually weak.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

And modern day technology has also revealed what’s in the irises of Our Lady’s eye, which measures a miniscule five-sixteenth of an inch. Accordingly, there are 13 figures found in the iris, including those of Diego and the bishop and his court. It also conforms to the law of optics, 100 percent!

What we often neglect to see in the portrait, which depicts Mary with the sun’s rays behind her and stars on her mantle, is that she appears to be with a baby in her womb. Her blue sash is tied above the waist! So she was truly the chosen vessel of Jesus. If we call the land of Jesus’ birth Holy Land, what more of the womb that bore Him?

This Christmas Day, let us pay tribute to Mary, the Mother of God, who desires to be our Mother. And remember, Christ is the reason for Christmas!

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