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Wide Christmas

O LITTLE town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Oh, where have the little Bethlehems gone, gone with the classic carols of a long-ago childhood, vanished into the silent night, holy night, where angels no longer sing, “Glory to the new-born King” upon the midnight clear.

Nor is it mere nostalgia but the changing of the times and the seasons, the music and the trends. We would rather brood over a blue Christmas than write a Christmas card – who does that anymore? – and transport ourselves to a fantasy land of snow, dreaming of a Christmas merry and bright and very white.

Two Christmases ago I replaced the red and gold on our tree with pink and silver. Last week my other fantasy land, Rustan’s, was all dressed up in pink tinsel and coruscating crimson, not a trace of white snow there. Araneta Center in Cubao was dolled up in diamond and blue sapphire, shaming the government of Quezon City, supposedly the richest city in Metro Manila, whose mayor and city council don’t believe in lighting up, not even in this most festive of seasons. In Cebu, architect and urban planner James Jao is doing a green Christmas, using what he calls the new plywood, a construction material made of fiber cement branded as Hardiflex, to build unusual shapes and forms in the age of climate change. His Christmas gift to himself? Renovating a women’s jail in Tacloban, four cells holding 10 prisoners each, as his pay-back to the nuns of the College of the Holy Spirit.

My wish for readers, people who read, is a wide Christmas. Wide roads to travel on. Wide smiles to brighten the day.

A wide welcoming door of knock-out opportunities. Wide windows, wider perspectives. A wider, broader degree of tolerance. Wide-open arms to reach out to children, the unloved. And a wider Skyway, one segment of which is a one-lane traffic inducer, with no refund for a P164 toll. (Jullie Y. Daza)