Author Topic: Stories Best Savored on Christmas Day Itself  (Read 6927 times)

Joe Carillo

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Stories Best Savored on Christmas Day Itself
« on: December 25, 2022, 12:59:36 AM »

To complement the Forum’s 2022 Christmas Commemorative Special that has been online since December 12, we have put together six more timely and timeless articles and features that have appeared in the Forum over the years that we feel are best savored when read or reread on Christmas Day itself.

These stories are a personal remembrance of Christmas as “A magical play of lights and singing voices” (2002) by Forum moderator Jose A. Carillo; an incisive commentary on “Christmas in Postmodern Times” (2018) by Forum member and contributor Maximo Tumbali; a humorous but satirical article on a different wavelength of celestial devotion, “Medjugorie, Here They Come” (2006) by Forum contributor Fred Natividad; and three Language Humor at its Finest collections, namely “A Christmas Q&A for Language Buffs” (2015) from the Christmas jokes collection of the website; “Our Crazy Language—Why Does English Behave the Way It Does?” (2013) from the “Therapeutic Humor with Dr. Steve” in; and “25 Thoughts To Get You Through Almost Any Crisis” (2013) from the Humor Bin “Culture Shock” Collection.

So here we go with the Forum’s six special Christmas Day readings:

A magical play of lights and singing voices (2002)
By Jose A. Carillo, Forum Moderator

In the farming village where I grew up, Christmas was essentially a play of light and singing voices. I lived in a sparse neighborhood that, having no electricity in those days, regularly disappeared after sundown among the thick clusters of trees and shrubs. There would only be small patches of light from kerosene lamps or wick lamps in the invisible houses. But when December came, practically all of the village households would hang a parol and I always volunteered to mount a candle inside ours. I would excitedly light it and a faint sheen of red, orange, yellow, blue, or green would break through the crepe paper or cellophane. In less than an hour the candle would consume itself and I would be too exhausted to put up and light a new one. Everyone else would be asleep by then, and the night would be so calm and silent I could hear it pounding on my eardrums.


On Christmas Eve I often stayed awake long past midnight. Our house would be totally dark because our kerosene gas lamp would have sputtered out hours earlier, all of its fuel used up. Only a small wick lamp in our kitchen would stay lit for the rest of the night. At that hour I would feel strangely grateful that there were thousands of stars in the sky. For some reason, I couldn’t remember a single Christmas Eve in those days when there was a full moon or at least substantial moonlight. What I remember were skies that were almost always cloudless, with stars that pulsated and seemed to shiver and swirl and dance in the blackness. I often would imagine that one of them was the Star of Bethlehem. It was in those moments that I felt I got nearest to feeling the sense of the divine, far more profoundly than when praying inside a high-ceilinged church or listening to Christmas songs sung with grace and sensitivity.

What made the season even more magical for me in those days were the Christmas carols. I would feel real goodwill even for the gaggle of children from the neighborhood who would sing Christmas songs in falsetto, banging oval sardine tin cans in accompaniment. But my anticipation was keenest for the caroling groups of the schoolteachers, religious groups, and glee clubs. In those days they would preannounce their coming with elaborate calling cards. At night they would come in formal dress decked with colorful capes and sashes, assembling in front of our house as if in a stage tableau, their faces illumined by the carbide glow of their huge multicolored parols. They would sing Christmas songs beautifully, and at parting time they would invariably oblige us with one or two songs of our choice even if they couldn’t sing them as well, their voices sometimes croaking from exhaustion. After partaking of our finger foods and ginger ale, they would leave for other houses. In bed I would listen to their voices getting fainter and fainter until I could no longer hear them.

All of these images and sounds of my countryside Christmases are just fading memories now. In their place are Christmases that assail the senses with hard-cased lanterns garishly lit by high-wattage lamps, synthetic Christmas trees that need to be assembled from trunk to twig, and young carolers that sing with ever diminishing verve and sincerity from year to year. The primitive magic of Christmas that I had always felt in my youth is gone. Against my better judgment, I have to suspend my disbelief to imagine that at least the spirit of Christmas is still alive—for my children’s sake, and for the sake of the child in me and in you as well.

Merry Christmas!

(This is a condensation of an essay that I wrote for my column in The Manila Times for its December 26, 2002 issue. This Christmas Season I am reposting it in the Forum to help summon into my consciousness the Christmas spirit that somehow has always lain in deep hibernation inside me since I was a child.)

Christmas in Postmodern Times (2018)
By Maximo Tumbali, Forum Member and Contributor

Prior to postmodern or contemporary times, Christmas was celebrated in modest and simple ways that were almost devoid of pomposity and vociferous revelry.

People then were more predisposed to celebrating the season in solemn ways, not in profane, worldly activities where the real spirit or meaning of Christmas is lost.

                                IMAGE CREDIT: JANGARKI.WORDPRESS.COM

Life then was simple and people didn’t hanker that much after expensive things. They would rather spend the season thanking the Almighty for whatever blessings they had received.

During the entire season you would see them in church hearing masses. In far-flung areas at dawn, flocks or hordes of people would walk long distances by foot to hear the Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass.

A sense of piety was the hallmark of their celebration, with Christmas focused on the child Jesus. Love in the Christian sense was at its pinnacle, so to speak, as evidenced by simple gift-giving among the people in an atmosphere of peace, harmony, kindness, and friendliness. Christmas then was divine and humane.

But now in postmodern times Christmas has taken on a lowly, worldly image that’s almost pagan. It has thrown away the spiritual in favor of the material. Among businessmen, Christmas has become a source of big business. To materialists, it has become an occasion for splurging on mundane feasts.

                                   IMAGE CREDIT: GETTY/HOLY FAMILY: UNSPLASH

Christmas today is practically an all-out war against what is sacred and solemn. It has become a time for extravagance and debauchery. Taking the center stage now are material gifts rather than Jesus, our Savior, and without those material gifts Christmas has become dry and boring.

Amidst all the high-tech gadgets or contrivances we now have on hand, the traditional way of celebrating Yuletide has vanished—and so has our faith in the Almighty. Out of these material inventions we have formed or established new gods, so to speak.

With bravado we now shout to the world that we are capable of doing things even without the intercession of Divine Providence. Yet behind this bravado lurks helplessness or frustration in addressing our deep personal problems.

Hence, it’s not surprising today to hear morbid stories about people taking their own lives for their incapacity or failure to understand themselves and much less solve their problems.

This is what happens when we lose the center of our lives. Mundane pleasures instead of God characterize our notion of Yuletide in postmodern times. We believe more in the material than in the spiritual.

Gone are the days when people would rather talk about the stories of the child Jesus. Now what we hear are people harping on the success of their careers, on their savings and investments, on their newly acquired properties, on these sorts of things. For them God talk is corny, so why the hell should they spend a second or two listening to corny God talk?

                                 IMAGE CREDIT: THEBUDGETTRAVELER.ORG

In the postmodern era, Christmas has clearly been stripped or divested of its holiness and serenity. It has been taken over by the global spread of all forms of commercialism, boisterous merrymaking, immorality, and the like.

But in fairness to the few who still uphold the true spirit and meaning of Christmas, there’s a flicker of hope that through their influence, humanity will come again to its right senses and embrace once more the divine and less the material things in life.


“Medjugorie, Here They Come” (2006, Revised 2010)
By Fred Natividad

They chatted noisily at the international terminal at O’Hare airport. To non-Filipinos near them they sounded distinctly talking in a foreign language, in some kind of pidgin notoriously common in the Philippines as Taglish.
Actually nobody really paid much attention to the chattering group except a few white ladies, beyond middle age, who did corner-of-the-eye glances. Either they were in transit to, or from, some hick town where they have never seen nor heard chatty Filipino women, or they were just nosy characters accumulating some gossip stuff to tell their neighbors over the fence back home.


Chicago, for one thing, is full of immigrants. And since O’Hare is an international airport, the sounds of all kinds of strange languages are not unusual. To mainstream Americans, Taglish is no more unusual than Swahili. Unless they are trained CIA linguists, the gossip-over-the-fence women can’t understand strange tongues anyway.
Ay, comari, yo ar heyer, olso?
Aba, op kors! Si maring Chuchi ay nag-tor na sa Lordis kaya tayo naman sa Mediogori.”
Pero, mari, magsa-sayd trip ata tayo sa Pompi...
Pompi? Sa Itali yon, ah.”
O-o. Magsi-siyaping tayo ng pornityior.”
Ya, huwag lang nating kalimutang bumile ng stetiyo ni Mama Mary sa Mediogori.”
Di ba marami ka na niyan?
Ya, bat alam mo namang wala pang Berhing Mediogori si Chuchi.”
Ay si. Oki, bat witiminit, awt op di wey ang Itali.”
Hmm, yo ar rayt. Okey, magtotor na lang tayo neks yir sa Rom. Malapit ang Pompi doon.”
"Eniwey, kabibili lang ni Chuchi ng pornityior sa Marshall Field. Med in Spain daw. Ibig sabihin wala pa siyang pornityor na med in Pompi."
Meanwhile, the weather was terrible and the Yugoslavian plane that was to take the Chicago pilgrims to Zagreb was delayed in New York. Every minute of delay meant an opportunity for another round of drinks at the bar of the international terminal where half of the customers were husbands of the religious women speaking funny Taglish.
Pari,” one of the husbands said to another man beside him, “ikaw ba’y bilib sa mirakol sa Mediogori?
Noo wiy!”
Eh, haw kam nandito ka?”
Hino-hyumor ko lang ang misis ko.”
Beri relidiyos ba siya?
E, marami siyang berhin sa bahay, e di relidiyos siya.”
Witi-minit, asawa mo hindi ka syior?”
Pari, lasing na rin kitang dalawa, ay tenk okiy lang to til yo di trot.”
Anong trot?”
Gelprin ko lang yan, pari.”
Oki, sa mga panahon ngayon dir is nating rong sa dalawang mag swithalt na nag-i- islip togidir...”
Pari, huwag ka lang maingay. Ang hosban niyan nasa Maynila. Ako naman, ang misis kong nars ay bising nagdo-dobol dyioti gabi-gabi. Si tenks nasa awt-op-tawn bisnis trip naman ako.”
Tang-na pare, bilib ako sa yo. Por yor abilidad, sa akin ang neks rawn.”
Hindi pari. Sa akin pa rin ang rawn na ito. Pera ng gelprin ko lang naman ang nasa walit ko, e. Anader rawn plis, bartindir...”
The bartindir, er, bartender, gave a nasty look to the two semi-drunk men, who, he gathered, were on their way to a religious pilgrimage. But, with a frozen smile, he poured another round of Scotch for each. He may not like these little brown hypocrites but he is not stupid—he liked their generous tips.
Just then the public address system blared that the Yugoslavian plane that will take the pilgrims to Zagreb just landed after a two-hour delay in New York. Flight number so-and-so will board in forty-five minutes.
The semi-inebriated, nattily dressed brown men gulped their unfinished drinks, paid for their drinks, left generous tips, and went out of the bar to join their forever-chatting ladies. The bartender watched them with relief because the other casually dressed blue-eyed customers began to grimace each time a Filipino in a suit and tie said something loudly in some kind of pidgin. But he was ambivalent—the brown men were good tippers.

The group filed into the plane as noisily as when they were waiting at the terminal. As soon as all were seated a Filipino priest, their spiritual leader whose travel was subsidized by the pilgrims, promptly began to lead the rosary aloud. He ignored the stewardess who was trying to demonstrate, without enthusiasm, for the hundred millionth time, the intricacies of surviving a crash, gesturing like a French mime with an orange inflatable vest.
Women from sixteen Filipino couples excitedly put out their rosaries and began to respond to the priest.
The flight hostess ignored the rosary-clutching women and continued her mime performance with bored disinterest.
Psst,” one woman whispered to another between the Holy Mary’s, “whir did yo git yor rosary? Ang akin binili ko sa Patima... holi-meri ... mudder-op-gad...
Pram Rom ang akin. Pero meron akong med op gold na iniwan ko sa bahay. Galing naman sa Nevers iyon... mudder-op-gad ... pri-poras...
The men, meanwhile, promptly went to sleep, dreaming of the hour when the flight hostesses with frozen smiles will begin to serve alcoholic drinks. In less than 24 hours the pilgrims will land at Zagreb and will be whisked by bus to Dubrovnik and thence to Medjugorie.
Medjugorean merchants, ready with all kinds of rosaries and pictures of the Lady of Medjugorie, will rub their palms in glee to welcome these new pilgrims. The pilgrims from Chicago will be equally ready. They will giddily unload their precious hard currency into the Medjugorean economy.
And, yes, they will also kneel with reverence at every spot where the tourist guide claimed the Lady of Medjugorie “miraculously” appeared to some village kids.
Originally written by Fred Natividad in Livonia, Michigan © 2006. Revised in June 2010.

(NEXT PANEL: 3 Language Humor at Its Finest Collections)
« Last Edit: December 25, 2022, 08:28:19 PM by Joe Carillo »

Joe Carillo

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Re: Stories Best Savored on Christmas Day Itself - 2
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2022, 01:46:41 AM »
1.“A Christmas Q&A for Language Buffs” (2015)

In the spirit of the Holiday Season, I am sharing this terrific collection of Christmas jokes that I found in the website. These jokes will surely make Forum members and guests hilariously merry this Christmas!

Thanks a million for these gems of humor, guys, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

What do you call a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa?
A rebel without a Claus.

What do you call an incomplete Christmas sentence?
A santa clause.

What do you call Santa living at the South Pole?
A lost clause.

What do you call Santa’s helpers?
Subordinate clauses.

What do you call an elf who sings?
A wrapper!

Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?
Because he had low elf esteem.

What part of the body do you only see during Christmas?

Why is Christmas just like your job?
You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?
Because it soot’s him.

Why are Christmas trees so fond of the past?
Because the present’s beneath them.

What do you call a broke santa? Give up yet?

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

What does Santa bring naughty boys and girls on Christmas Eve?
A pack of batteries with a note saying “Toy not included.

Why is Santa so jolly?
Because he knows where all the naughty girls live.

Why doesn’t Santa have any children?
Because he only comes once a year, and when he does, it’s down the chimney.

What do you call a cat on the beach at Christmas time?
Sandy Claws!

Who doesn’t eat on Christmas?
A turkey because it is always stuffed.

Why did Santa send his daughter to college?
To keep her off the North Pole.

Why did Frosty the Snowman want a divorce?
Because he thought his wife was a flake.

What do you call an obnoxious reindeer?

Why can’t the Christmas tree stand up?
It doesn’t have legs.

How can you tell a family doesn’t celebrate Christmas?
The lights are on, but nobody’s a gnome.

What’s the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
The Christmas alphabet has Noel.

Name the child’s favorite Christmas king?
A stocking.

What is the popular Christmas carol in Desert?
Camel ye Faithful.

How does an elf get to Santa’s workshop?
By icicle.

Why did the Grinch go to the liquor store?
He was looking for the holiday spirit.

What do you call a frog hanging from a ceiling?

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

What Christmas Carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night.

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?
Fleece Navidad!

What do you call a Christmas song parody that’s not funny?
The first no-LOL.

What nationality is Santa Claus?
North Polish.

What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?
Crisp Cringle.

What’s the difference between Santa Clause and a knight?
One slays the dragon and the other drags the slay.

What do you call a scary reindeer?
A cariboo.

What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

—Selected from the Christmas jokes collection of the website

2. Our Crazy Language—Why Does English Behave the Way It Does?

Is it a coincidence that the only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is “uncopyrightable”?
u  n  c  o  p  y  r  i  g  h  t  a  b  l e


Did you know that “verb” is a noun?


How can you look up words in a dictionary if you can’t spell them?


If a word is misspelled in a dictionary, how would we ever know?


If two mouses are “mice” and two louses are “lice,” why aren’t two houses “hice”?


If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?


If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?


If you’ve read a book, you can reread it. But wouldn’t this also mean that you would have to “member” somebody in order to remember them?


In Chinese, why are the words for “crisis” and “opportunity” the same?


Is there another word for a synonym?


Shouldn’t there be a shorter word for “monosyllabic”?


What is another word for “thesaurus”?


Where do swear words come from?


Why can’t you make another word using all the letters in “anagram”?


Why do “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing?


Why do “overlook” and “oversee” mean opposite things?


Why do people use the word “irregardless”?


Why do some people type “cool” as “kewl?”


Why do we say something is “out of whack”? What is a “whack”?


Why do we say something’s “out of order” when it’s broken but we never say “in of order” when it works?


Why does “cleave” mean both split apart and stick together?


Why does “slow down” and “slow up” mean the same thing?


Why does “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing?


Why does the Chinese ideogram for “trouble” symbolize two women living under one roof?


Why does X stand for a kiss and O stand for a hug?


Why doesn’t “onomatopoeia” sound like what it is?


Why don’t we say “why” instead of “how come”?


Why is “crazy man” an insult, while to insert a comma and say “Crazy, man!” is a compliment?


Why are a “wise man” and a “wise guy” opposites?


Why is “abbreviation” such a long word?


Why is “dyslexic” so hard to spell?


Why is it so hard to remember how to spell MNEMONIC?


Why is it that no word in the English language rhymes with “month,” “orange,” “silver,” or “purple”?


Why is it that we “recite” at a play and “play” at a recital?


Why is it that writers “write” but fingers don’t “fing,” grocers don’t “groce” and hammers don’t “ham”?


Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?


Why is the plural of “goose” – “geese,” and why isn’t the plural of “moose” – “meese”?


Why isn’t “palindrome” spelled the same way backwards?


Why isn’t “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds?

—From “Therapeutic Humor with Dr. Steve,”

3. 25 Thoughts To Get You Through Almost Any Crisis


2.   Indecision is the key to flexibility.

3.  You cannot tell which way the train went by looking at the track.

3.   There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.

4.   Happiness is merely the remission of pain.

5.   Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

6.   Sometimes too much drink is not enough.

7.   The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.

8.   The careful application of terror is also a form of communication.

9.   Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.

10. Things are more like they are today than they ever have been before.

11. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.

12. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

13. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

14. I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.

15. Suicide is the most sincere form of self-criticism.

16. All things being equal, fat people use more soap.

17. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

18. One-seventh of your life is spent on Monday.

19. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.

20. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

21. The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets.

22. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

23. This is as bad as it can get, but don’t bet on it.

24. Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it.

—From the Humor Bin “Culture Shock” Collection
« Last Edit: December 25, 2022, 09:02:16 PM by Joe Carillo »