Published 25 December 2020, The Daily Tribune

My Friday column falls exactly on Christmas day. This does not come often.

Allow me then to deviate from the usual legal tone that has characterized my articles in the past two-and-a-half years.

Can 2020 Christmas be really happy given the unfortunate events that transpired throughout the year? First was the Taal Volcano ashfall that darkened the skies of Tagaytay and littered the streets of nearby cities, then, the Covid-19 pandemic that has upended lives, threatened our sanity and caused so much desolation to humanity, followed by the various quarantine restrictions that impaired our freedom of movement — whether brought about by general community quarantine, enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine.

As if these are not enough, we witnessed the massive destruction caused by typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses” and the catastrophic flooding of Cagayan.

Then, we had the slew of national scandals and spate of negative stories on various topics that challenged our sense of optimism.

With all the calamity and misfortunes, not a few have considered 2020 as annus horribilis. Some have even given cabalistic significance to the number “4,” the product when the two 2s in 2020 are added or multiplied.

I disagree, though. 2020 is not a bad year.

It is more of a year of testing.

The past events tested our faith, our resolve, our humanity and really even our sanity.

I dare say we passed the test because we came out of it — stronger and better.

Sadly, we lost the lives of loved ones, and nothing can compensate for such loss.

But it helped us acquire a different perspective of events.

We learned to value life, good health and time.

We saw how everything can be fleeting, including fame, fortune and, at times, even friendship.

We all made a resolution to focus on and appreciate what are truly essential in life.

Christmas should thus be celebrated despite all the adversities. Any thought of skipping it should be immediately perished.

We have to rejoice and savor the joy of the season, yet mindful of the constraints and the health protocols.

The first Christmas was spartan and yet full of joy.

Our Lord was born in abject poverty without the trappings of luxury and convenience.

And yet, the birth of Jesus is perhaps the greatest event in all of history.

Joy and hardship are not incompatible with each other.

Joy can coexist with trials and tribulations.

We can be happy despite all the difficulties.

It is all a matter of perspective and disposition.

We have so many reasons to be cheerful about and thankful for — our good health, our job, our friends, our family, our loved ones, and even if we don’t have all of those, we can still be happy because there is a God who cares about us, and there is something that no one can take away from us — HOPE.

Hope tells us that time will eventually sort things out, and for the good. Omnia in bonum.

As an educator, I experienced first-hand the difficulties caused by the pandemic, ranging from forced adjustments on pedagogy to connectivity issues.

But I am thankful that our faculty and students did not allow the pandemic to define them.

Adversities did not weaken their resolve to impart and learn knowledge.

Instead, the adversities strengthened their will and inflamed their passion. Indeed, the pandemic is no match to the indomitable will of the human spirit.

As a law practitioner, while other areas of practice were affected, new horizons emerged.

Thanks be to God — a sizable number of companies was added to our roster of clients.

These are new engagements on matters that perhaps would not have materialized without the pandemic.

Indeed, fate, not just love, works in mysterious ways.

Happiness and joy are what you make of the situation.

Let no one see sadness in our faces despite the difficulties.

Let us radiate hope, faith and cheerfulness no matter what life may bring.

Let our Christmas be truly happy even if we don’t have this and that and despite this and that.

A merry and blessed Christmas to all!

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