Minority Report

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It’s toward the end of that period around Christmas and New Year in Dumaguete, the last party, the last dance of the year. The people here are doing their best to enjoy themselves.

But for the young man in the middle the enjoyment seems forced; his expression is more a grimace than a smile. The man on the left seems to be off balance, dancing alone, and in the background a small group of people trudge around with downcast looks. Only the couple on the right seem to have any real feeling for the occasion, or for each other.

This season is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the weather is cool and windy; people can be warm and close without perspiration; charity and forgiveness can bloom. There are vacations, family reunions, drinking and feasting every night. Children are happy and quiet at night, waiting for Christmas day and Christmas gifts.

Of course all this costs money, more than many ordinary people can afford; and so they often begin their new year heavily in debt. Still, it’s only once a year, and they’re willing to make the sacrifice to keep their families and their children happy.

But for anyone but children, the season can bring another kind of sadness. For adults, Christmas is often bittersweet: it celebrates a great birthday of hope for the world, but it also celebrates the ending of the year, and brings out memories of the past.

People look back to what they hoped for in the last year, and in all the years before. Whatever they may have gained or lost in wealth or resolution, they have certainly lost another year of time. Lost wealth can be replaced, but lost time cannot. They remember that every year gone is one year less left.

They see children, breathlessly waiting for Christmas morning to grant them all their dreams. They remember that feeling, how strongly it came to them at Christmas every year; and they know the time when it has come more than it will come again.

The people in this picture, dancing- they’re very young, but they’re not children anymore. They enjoy this time of celebration, but behind their surface smiles they know this season, with all its happiness and all its memories comes only once a year, and it’s already enough. Afterward, when it’s over, going back to normal life is happiness too.

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