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Thursday, January 1, 2009


Can you imagine children being so excited for there Christmas gifts that they can't sleep.  Then within a week the opened gifts are mostly shoved next to other forgotten gifts from last week, last month or last year.  Happens all the time, your thinking.  Imagine children being so excited to receive a gift they can't sleep for days.  But wait, these children are getting there first gifts ever when celebrating Christmas. One little girl opened her gift and it was nothing more than a small change purse, with a tiny mirror and plastic comb.  Her eyes and smile were as wide as I had ever seen on a child.  When she was passed another gift, her eyes told me she thought it was wrong and any minute they would pull it from her hands and give it to another.  She glanced around and nobody was coming for her gift, so she started to rip open the wrapping, and both her eyes and mouth opened to the fullest.  "A real doll, look" she said, to one of her cousins. Nobody wanted to look, they were looking at there own gifts.  There was a pile of gifts under the table for Christmas this year.  Hopefully there will be next year, and the year after that.  I had thought with my friend Mira about having a Christmas party, doing the tree, decorations, and whatever goes along with that.  But in the end I made the decision to not do it.   The reason which I didn't do it was simple to me.  I didn't want to put myself in between the kids and there family.  For whatever they had or didn't have to celebrate there Christmas with there kids, that was how they would celebrate and that was what there children would remember.  For sure I am guilty of giving gifts before the holiday itself, but somehow I didn't feel there parents would begrudge me for giving a few gifts for there Christmas.  A party before Christmas day or eve somehow just didn't seem right.  I guess I just didn't want these kids to remember my party more than they would remember anything there parents did for them.  I don't know if my thinking was correct, but I sure felt it at the time, and still feel I would do the same thing again.
New Years was as mellow as could be expected.  The one thing that did impress me was the fireworks.  About a week before Christmas, stands along the roads started popping up.  It seemed every time u drove down one road there would be another stand. 
Funny thing was that every stand, some as close as arm length away from the next all sold exactly the same thing.  I was told Christmas Eve would be a big show of fireworks which it was, but you can't imagine New Years. 
About 11:50 the sound of popping and explosions started.  Like gun shots, but hopefully not. More and more explosions erupted in the air.  At one time the smell of gun powder was so strong, you waved your hand in front of your face to clear the air.  We were on my second floor terrace watching out over the whole island.  At a couple minutes before 12 the colors started showing all over the island.  Just at midnight a couple of the hotels along the beach erupted in such an amazing show of fireworks, I was very impressed.  Usually it's the same oooohhh and ahhhh, but this really was brilliant.  It lasted for good five minutes.
But what was also very cool was when you looked away for a second, there were other firework shows going on everywhere.  The sky was literally lit up with colors for a very long time.  When the main shows ended, small fireworks danced across the sky for most of the night.  
The Christmas, News Years season was a little different than any of the other I had had in forty years, but that was to be expected.   Every special event or holiday that comes along seems to make you think of not only how it is celebrated back home, but how it affects the people that you have surrounded yourself at the present time.  
Holidays year after year are like driving down the same road over and over.  Eventually you know every bump and stone along the road.   The first time I drove to Maine, boy was it beautiful.  Many years later, unless I make a concerted effort to notice, I forget the beauty of Maine.  
I am a self proclaimed non-religious person.  I respect others for there beliefs.  I don't know enough about any religion to proclaim it better than another and I never will.  I will say that spending this holiday season here in the Philippines has taught me another lesson.  But also I ask myself a question, and that is why it took me to as far away place as I can get, to notice the world around me.... 

Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature.  This is not just a dream, but a necessity.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama