The Transcendental Tourist

Last Christmas

Quezon City, the Philippines

December 25, 2010

It was my dad’s last Christmas.

Even as my family was walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the spirit of Christmas still sustained us. The birth of Immanuel, “God with us”, had been prophesied thousands of years before the first Christmas, but the prophecy is forever fulfilled in us, in love.

Last Christmas

I was sitting at the top flight of the stairs that Christmas night after a steady stream of relatives and friends had gone, happy-sad at the sight of my mom and dad peacefully spending their last Christmas together, evoking the divine verses of Khalil Gibran:

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Khalil Gibran

In the midst of pain and loss, my parents took comfort in the cradle of God’s abundant love and overflowing peace. Surely that faithful love made manifest that Christmas night will follow me through all the Christmases to come, all the days of my life.

49 thoughts on “Last Christmas

  1. Sniff* sniff*. This is the most heart-warming Christmas post I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing this with us, AJ. You’ve reminded us of the beauty of Christmas and family and love—even death. May you, your mom, and your entire family be blessed. I’m sure your dad angel up there has something in store for you this season. πŸ™‚

    1. “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time. The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life….” That’s my Christmas song for you, Reiza! Merry Christmas to you too.

  2. Christmas should be full of love, thank you for reminding me of it with this sweet post. πŸ™‚
    Have wonderful holidays with your family, Merry Christmas!!

    1. Yeah, it’s winter wonderland right here in my corner of the blogosphere. Thanks and merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

  3. I am sorry it’s my 2nd Christmas too without my niece who passed away before the Christmas of 2010. Merry Christmas may we still celebrate it with what we left for us.

  4. :((( My hair stand on end as I was reading this. I am in the heart of God! I can’t help but cry. May your family be blessed always as your father is guiding you through with God from up above. Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

  5. Merry Christmas to you and your family, AJ. I’m sure your dad enjoys the trips you and your mom had (kasi I’m sure sumasama siya sa inyo!)

    1. That’s a nice thought (not scary at all, hehe). Merry Christmas to you too, Nina! More trips, more income, and more awards! πŸ™‚

  6. The way you presented your experience is patterned with the 23 Psalm of the Bible. A line that says: “In the valley of the shadow of death…” then concluded it just like the last lines of the said Psalm: “Surely mercy and goodness shall follow me in the days of my life.” You’ve got a style! Be of good cheer for the loss of your beloved father. Soon you’ll be united with him. But right now, God has a very good plan for you to do it. Follow that plan and you’ll be surprised what the Lord has done for you!

    1. Wow I’m so glad you got it! It’s a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) way of saying that the Lord is indeed my shepherd. You made my Boxing Day, Gil. Thanks for the encouraging and comforting comment. You’re a godsend. God bless you!

  7. My father died this year and I can totally relate to how you feel. It’s sad, we miss him but we must go on for you, your family and for your Dad. My new year wont be the same again, it’s totally different if someone is missing in the family.


    1. @Exotic Phils: My sincerest condolences, Gay Aida. We will be reunited with them on that “beautiful shore,” as the hymn goes. xoxo

      @C-5: Yes, sooner or later. Btw, I pass by you when I’m southbound. πŸ™‚

  8. This is a sweet stroy. Though one leaving us is a sad moment, i can feel love and the value of family. Hope you still have a merry christmas. πŸ™‚

    1. Am I such a wet noodle in this season of fun? Thanks for the heartfelt comments, Sining Factory and Kiko. My heart goes out to you, Kiko. I know how it feels.

  9. This is a beautiful post, AJ! Very personal so thanks for sharing this side of your life to us. πŸ˜€ Wala na akong ibang masabi, di dahil nosebleed ang entry na toh (slight lang). Pero parang there’s no need to say anything more. Thanks again and merry christmas and a happy new year! πŸ˜€

    1. This is my family-oriented, homebody side. A tourist goes home, after all. πŸ™‚ Happy holidays Ed! May the coming year bring more travels and adventures.

  10. Like you I have had my share of last Christmases. My dad passed away a few days after Christmas and New Year. My mom had the same. Nagpasko at nagbagong-taon lang sila. They always want to share that with us, and I think they loved us so much they always want to spend Christmas with us. I can totally relate with you. And my only consolation–They are having a birthday party with Jesus up in the heavens–we can never give them that. πŸ˜€

    1. Such a sweet and touching story, Dinger. And I’m blown away by your perspective – “having a birthday party with Jesus up in the heavens”. Yes, nothing can beat that here on earth. Amen to that! πŸ™‚

  11. AJ -This was a most touching post and a very powerful affirmation of your faith…Christmas is nothing without faith, love and family and your post speaks of all three…Thank you for sharing!

    1. This is what Jesus came here for – to be one in our human loves and losses. Thanks Corinne. A blessed new year to you and your loved ones.

  12. This is one of the most touching story I have ever read from yr posts AJ. It is not only beautifully written as usual, but at the same time shows how grateful n respectful u r to yr parents and how lovable they were to u n the whole family. I have so many things to learn from the story and the most important of all is mutual respect between children and their parents. GBU always.

    1. Hi Neneng, what a sweet surprise! Glad to see you back. Christmas is long past, but every day is Christmas if you have the love of Christ in your heart. Thanks for the friendship. GBU2!

  13. It has been two years and the Lord has been good and gracious to you and yours, always ensuring that life is wonderful inspite of the ifs and buts. Truly, Emmanuel is with us. Amen.

    Wishing you joy always, dear Agnes and Age.

    Warm wishes,

    1. By God’s grace, our loss has bonded the family more tightly. Indeed, God with us.

      A blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones, Mrs Sus. We survived the end of the world, haha!

      Love always,

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