Friday, January 6, 2012

Circle of Love

My family and I are somewhere in this circle of 140 people made up of siblings and cousins; aunts and uncles; lolos and lolas; and in-laws.   

Many will say this is a friendship circle, as it is better known in camps and jamborees, but I prefer to call it circle of love, especially because our reunion theme was, Love Actually. 

This is reprised every year in the clan to which I belong (my mother's side) as a ritual of leaving the old year and meeting the new one.

Fifteen minutes before midnight, we gather (babies are roused from their sleep, oldies are escorted in, and kiddies are herded from where they are galloping around) to form this circle.

It is the highlight of our three-day reunion, now on its 67th year. One may skip any of the activities but never this one.

While holding hands (folded right over left), we sing at least four songs: Dundungwen Kanto (an Ilocano serenade), to remind us of our roots; Let Me Call You Sweetheart (an old love song), to remind us of our forbears; Auld Lang Syne, to be in tune with the rest of the world; and Bless Be the Tie that Binds, to honor the One who keeps us together. 

In other countries, this is replicated by clan members who can't be with us.

On this 67th year we surprised ourselves by singing spontaneously, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (Lutkin's Sevenfold Amen), in a perfect four-voice harmony, just after the pastor among us said the prayer of thanksgiving.

“This is the only clan I know,” someone whispered, “who can sing this benediction at a drop of a hat, beautifully, without any rehearsal.”

Well, we grew up singing it in the church choir.

There is debate on when this circle of love started, but I don't remember nor know any other way of welcoming the new year. Friends have exciting stories about how their New Year celebration went, but for me, this simple, familial tradition matches none.

The circle of love is symbolic of how we uphold each other in grief, and how we celebrate together in joy.

How heartwarming to end and begin every year with family—people who worship the same loving Savior and have the same blood running in your veins! 

Before we break out of the circle to form a rowdy and energetic human train, the oldest in the clan starts off the electric trail with one hand. He squeezes the next person's hand—and that person likewise does the same—until everyone in the circle is properly electrified.

Then comes a deafening countdown: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, Happy New Year!  Now, quickly go under your right arm, turn around, and . . . whee!
 
Can grace be more electrifying?


(Circle photos are by Noel; clan official photo by Dannie)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mayat met nga talaga. Nag ganas. Makapasiggar.

BIG AL said...

I only know you and Jr personally,but i am always blessed seeing and being informed about your clan's reunion.i remember how Jr shared this important gathering few times (not to mention his essay on "Learn from the Oldies, Teach the kiddies".

This inspired me to write an article about a REUNION few years ago.i once published it in my blog.

I still have JR's hard coppyof his article -well kept.it will remind of hope for a reunion my own. since i haven't experienced even once yet my age.

cool reunion. wow 67th one!

God bless your clan (s)!

Grace D. Chong said...

Daven, naikapis ka maneeennn.

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Big Al,

Reunions are fun and heartwarming. Try to organize one in your clan and you'll see what I mean. Thank you for taking time to visit my blog. How's the writing coming along? Keep going!

Minnaalin said...

67 tugs at the heartstrings, cuz! Makapaluwasit.

Grace D. Chong said...

I get teary-eyed each time we are in the circle. I remember those who started it all, but who are now gone.

Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

You family rocks, Grace! Wish all families looked forward to seeing each other like your members do.

Grace D. Chong said...

We try to make a ll reunions fun. So it's actually the exclamation point in many attendees' year, especially those who have no social groups.