Friday, December 31, 2004

I can't remember a more depressing holiday season than this one. Just locally we had 2 bad typhoons one after the other, followed by floods and landslides resulting in multiple casualties and millions in property damage. Of course, there is the utter devastation that nature unleashed with an earthquake and subsequent tsunamis upon South Asia, which we were, luckily, spared. The death toll last I heard had passed the 120,000 mark, when just the other night it was 80,000. You can see some video footage of the tsunamis here. Just thinking about that kind of destruction can boggle the mind. Entire villages and coastlines rendered, entire families disappearing. I was watching BBC and they were interviewing this tourist in the hospital, and he was talking about how he was holding his son in his arms and when the wave hit his son just vanished. He was trying to get out of the hospital to join his family in the search for the boy but they wouldn't let him go because his injuries were still too severe for him to be moving about. The whole interview he was semi-weeping and it was just heartbreaking. And that's just one story out of thousands. So many people still haven't been accounted for, even, at one point, both Arthur C. Clarke and Jet Li.

Back to local, and just among people I know, some friends have lost family members, and others have broken up relationships.

This whole year has been kind of weird. There didn't seem to be a dominant feeling about it; there were good times, and there were bad times, but mostly a kind of blah-- punctuated occasionally by the good and bad. And maybe we hold on to those good and bad times as extreme points in contrast to everything else that was pretty much same ol', same ol'.

I'm not a very religious person. These holidays, I pretty much treat as a time for giving thanks.

This year my dad lost 2 siblings, his last living sister and his eldest brother. Both to cancer, which had already claimed his father and eldest sister. It came up during Christmas dinner, to think about what we've lost. It was an awkward moment for me, because I realized that my dad still has 3 brothers left. If I lost 2 siblings, I'd be alone. I wondered about families who would have their first Christmas dinner minus a family member. My tita who lost her husband, my tito who lost his wife. Friends who had lost family members. Even the De Venecias. Their youngest daughter had been in classes both Neva and I had taught. Though we didn't really know her, it's always sad when someone younger than you-- and someone that young-- dies. Someone I know died around Halloween. He was slightly younger than me, a fresh graduate. I didn't know him very well either, in fact I'd only been with him twice, but both times we had genial talks about photography; at the time I was saving up to buy an LC-A and he wanted to get my Quad Cam. When someone younger than you dies it's always a sharper reminder of your own mortality. You feel like it shouldn't happen, which I imagine any parent feels when their own child dies before them.

Is that what we are left with, at the end of the year? To take comfort in that things could've been much, much worse, and in the light of all these surrounding tragedies, we got off lucky? Look around you, at your family members who are still with you, friends and loved ones thankfully in good health. A home and hopefully a job, with clothes and food and things you love: books or comics or films or music or art. Hug them a little tighter, laugh at their jokes a little louder, appreciate things a little better.

Giving thanks.

It's more than enough.

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