Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas party at the Nunciature

When I received the invitation for a Christmas party from the Apostolic Nunciature, I had second thoughts of attending.

During the past years after mom's passing away, it was the only social event dad had been attending. As a matter of fact, he looks forward to this.

No matter how busy I was, I must make time to accompany dad then for he will have difficulty walking alone.

I said to myself, I know dad would like me to go but at the same time it will be the first time I will be going there alone. The only reason for my presence in the nunciature events such as the Pope's day was because of dad. When mom was alive I used to miss some of them since mom was always there but when she was gone I had no choice. I had been his only official other 'half'.

A week prior to the event, I received an email from Sister Claire who worked with the nunciature for decades but now had been based in Brazil after her Bethlehem assignment. I mentioned my predicament but she encouraged me to go.

Since I was so tired from the previous days appointments, I decided to rest the whole day of Saturday. Dad had always been very early in leaving for the nunciature for he never wants to be late.

We would be one of the first if not the first people to arrive.

I said to myself I must do the same and leave early for Taft Ave is always a traffic maze. Unfortunately I overslept when I took my afternoon nap so when I woke up I tried to make a dash for it. It didnt help that I couldnt find the right pants for my blouse :)

Nevertheless I rushed and as expected experienced the holiday traffic, not really at Taft Ave but at the expressway. It was close to 630pm and we were just at the skyway. I could feel my dad at my back getting upset. Luckily, taft avenue was clear and I arrived shortly before 7pm. There were lots of cars lined up along the three gates of the nunciature.

I asked my driver to go inside the gate as the custom of dad during his last years for it was a feat for him to walk lengthily.

The nunciature staff may not be familiar with the car I was bringing, my silver gray Honda Civic since Dad had always used the green Nissan so they had to check who was the guest coming through the driveway.

The trusted staff recognized me and let us through. For the first time however, I see the staff giving food to the driver before I alighted.

There were dozens of people inside the hall. I tried to look for familiar faces, specially the sisters but there was none! I was surprised for usually I will at least see the sisters in their gray habit. Later I learned that all the sisters were changed to a new batch.

I greeted the Nuncio, His Excellency Antonio Franco who customarily greeted his guests as soon as they go down the vehicle. I then see Mariella and later Fr Reuter seated with the other priests.

A few days ago, I texted Msgr Quitorio asking if he will be attending this christmas party but unfortunately he had another commitment out of town. We usually update ourselves annually either during the Pope's day or the christmas party.

I didnt see any bishop I knew. Well I didnt see any at all but the muslim and buddhist delegation were all present.

Some people started greeting me but I actually didnt know them. Just formalties I guess.

After a few mins, His Excellency asked everyone to be seated so dinner could start. He said some may have been late (many tables were empty) but we needed to start for he knew many were hungry. Mariella seated me in one of the tables in front. I had been wondering where I will actually sit for dad never wanted to take the front tables. He has always wanted to leave early.

Little did I know I was with some Italian embassy people. A filipino couple (who I guess wanted to be chummy with the embassy) chose to stay at our table too.

I met Susan, seated beside me who apparently just got married last year to her italian diplomat boy friend whose name escapes me at the moment. Maybe I will ask mariella tomorrow. He must be important for many people wanted to meet him.

Seated right across me was the owner of L'Inconntrue, dad's favorite Italian restaurant. I actually couldnt remember where I saw him but I was starting at him for he looked familiar.

Susan later told me if I know the said restaurant for they served good authentic Italian cusine and that man was the owner. Of course I said! It's dads favorite place :)

The usual program started after dessert emceed by His Excellency. Susan said it has been their third year attending this party. I said Dad has been attending this even before I was born. The traditional raffle prizes were given but I noticed there was great care in making the raffle numbers right now. They came in intricately colored and cut Star of David papers. I was so happy because I won one of them. The nuncio's right hand priest told me it was one of the best raffle prizes I got for he himself wrapped it :)

Susan also won a raffle and I took her photo below while receivng it. Unfortunately her back was turned. The guests all sang christmas carols and for the first time a copy of the lyrics was given to all of us. After the raffle, the Nuncio led in a christmas toast then it was time to leave. I brought my trusted old camera as always and we had some photos in our table shown in this post and some shots with the group. I saw Sister Jean this time and asked her where all the sisters are. Thats when i knew they all had new assignements - she in Antipolo and Sis Gloria in Tuguegarao.

His Excellency asked how I was and left me with some encouraging words that my dad will always be there. I was trying to hold back my tears but I really became teary eyed and coulndt speak much. I told him I had second thoughts of coming but he said I must always be there for dad will always be with all of us even in spirit. When I got to the car, I felt happy knowing dad was smiling as I did one of what he treaured most during December.

No comments: