Christmas — school break, cool weather, lazy mornings in bed, gimmicks with friends, presents, family reunions, great food!!!

Yup, I remember those good ole days. Of course, those days were when I was a kid up till the time I got hitched.

From the time the kids started coming one after the other though, Christmas became a very STRESS-filled season. Endless shopping for family (and that now included a whole clan of in-laws), nights finding me on the floor wrapping up the presents and labelling them, discovering I missed out on a few more people so the shopping cycle began again….The kids loved this time of the year; I dreaded it (though, of course, I tried not to show it and made it as fun and pleasant for all).

This year, I resolved to change my view of things.

The shopping will not go away and neither will the nights of wrapping up gifts. But I sure can change how I respond to the situation. Getting all worked up and stressed over the whole thing just caused me angst and about the only thing it did to me was age me a few years more.

So, with some success, I have tackled the art of shopping (without dropping) and actually found myself enjoying it. To celebrate this newfound freedom from stress, I bought a new Christmas tree to change our 15-year old one (and chose the decor myself). And I am refocusing my thoughts on the real spirit behind Christmas. The belen at home was moved to a more prominent spot in the living room to remind the kids (and most of all, ME) that there lay the reason behind our celebrations all these years.


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The Price of a Son’s Honesty

Filipino has always been our family’s waterloo. It was always our lowest subject, no matter how much effort we exerted. I hated it; so do my kids.

So year after year, come major exams, I am always on tenterhooks — and during parent-teacher conferences, the Filipino teacher is always on the top of my list of teachers to see.

Our son Ian had been having his share of difficulties in Filipino. More so now that he is a high school freshman. Throughout the 2nd quarter, we got regular reminders from the teacher for him to exert more effort. At the start of the 3rd Quarter last week, their class reviewed their quarterly test papers in Filipino with the teacher. Ian came home that evening crestfallen. He related to us what had happened in class.

He was initially overjoyed to see that he had passed his exam. That joy was short-lived however when, upon adding up his scores, he found out that the teacher had made a mistake in addition. His real grade was 3 points lower than the total score on his paper. And it fell below the passing score. At this point, I could almost imagine the inner struggle in him. It was so easy to just keep mum about the correction since the teacher had already written his grade in her record book. But could he live with his silence?

In the end, Ian went up to his teacher and pointed out her mathematical mistake. He knew that by doing so, he had just gone from a PASS to a FAIL. Not a very uplifting moment, considering that he needed precious points to pull some of his low quizzes up. To top it all, a classmate called him “an idiot” for doing so. That must have been quite a blow for him.

So that evening, as he related the incident to us, we felt the pain and sadness inside him. His sisters tried to console him by telling him he did the right thing. I also tried to tell him the same thing. But a mother’s words are no match for that of a peer who thinks his honesty is idiotic.

As they say, the true test of a person’s character is revealed in the direst of moments and in adversity. A man’s character is tested by what he would do under a situation where he knows HE WON’T GET CAUGHT. Ian was definitely tested in this instance and with much difficulty, I’m sure, he made his decision. At his own expense, he chose to follow his conscience even if it meant failing his Quarterly Test.

Well, to cut the story short, Ian got his report card yesterday. Lo and behold, he PASSED Filipino and actually pulled up his card grade by 5 points from the 1st Quarter!!!! At the parent-teacher conference today, his Fil teacher told me how pleased she was with his honesty, that she could see all the effort he exerted in her class (even memorizing a poem for Linggo ng Wika better than many in the class) and that he really deserved to pass this quarter.

We are so, so proud of Ian for standing on the side of HONESTY and not compromising under pressure.

Son, you make us all proud of you because you have shown us what stuff you are really made of inside when push comes to shove. We hope and pray that by learning to remain honest in small things, you will grow up and stay honest in larger, more crucial situations.

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