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Not even Presidents

Twinkling with Ninfa R. Leonardia

Poor Mr. Barack Obama! He had to cancel his 60th birthday celebration because of the COVID. Alas, this virus is no respecter of positions, and not even the former president of the United States will dare to mark this milestone in his life and expect friends and colleagues to flock to his party. But, don’t feel so bad, Sir, you are not the only one deprived of a landmark birthday. Even little children, to whom such a day is always special, must have been missing their birthday parties, too.


I can even imagine little boys and girls sulking when they find out that they cannot mark their birthdays in the way they expected. Who will be greeting them and singing Happy Birthday, while their eyes are all on the colorful cake alight with tiny candles for them to blow off before having it sliced and served to them? And how can they play games and hold contests with prizes for the winners, when one can throw a party these days where nobody might come?


Because Filipinos are famous for birthday celebrations, the failure to mark one’s natal day now must be a great disappointment to children. But I am sure most families – who can afford it, of course – will not fail to hold a party, even if only their immediate families are there to enjoy it with them. As Filipinos, we are noted for our love for birthday parties, so I am sure, many will manage to assemble a semblance of one when that most anticipated day comes?


I am not a parent, but I can sympathize with those who are and must have quite a time explaining to their celebrators why they cannot hold a party at this time. Maybe they can tell them that even a former president of the United States had to forego his most meaningful birthday, not because he was not willing to do so, but because he could not be sure if anybody would come. And if indeed, friends would come to greet him or her, what gifts would they be bringing?


Oh, there will be toys, if the celebrator is still a kid, and other items for the older ones, but what if what they bring to the party, aside from gifts for the one celebrating, they also bring with them a touch of the virus that has been troubling countries all over the world? If anybody asks me for advice, I’d say, just greet the one marking the special day on the phone, which is the safest means. I would not even suggest a card or a letter that, who knows, could be “carriers”, too!


Don’t be ashamed to be called a hypochondriac because you are being too careful. Remember the saying that goes “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”? It has been our misfortune to belong to this era when such maladies are showing up, but one can still avoid being infected by being careful and listening to advice on how to avoid being victimized. And, so far, the best advice being given out is to “Stay Home”.


Console yourself with the fact that there are now many gadgets and items that can make “home stay” not as boring as they must have been in the days before TV, radio, and other inventions that came out in our generation that can amuse one even if alone. There is the radio, television, and even cellphones that you can take along with you, wherever you go. Think of our grandparents who had to go a-visiting when they need someone to talk to or to divert them. Nowadays, we can even talk to relatives and friends abroad when we feel like it. And can afford, naturally.


These days, we can also divert ourselves by following up results of the Olympic competitions, while our grandparents had to wait for the papers to keep informed. Meanwhile, we also have reason to be proud of our athletes who have been snatching medals and are not coming home empty-handed, figuratively, that is. I think our delegation have garnered at least four medals, with one gold, and that is, so far, the best we have done in previous Olympic competitions. Doesn’t that give us hope that the next one will give us more?*

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