Kamayan and the Comfort of the Hand

Aristotle said that hands were the tool of tools and symbolize strength, protection and generosity.

My hands were formed inside and emerged from Ma’s womb 40 years ago.

These days, my hand is what my 81 year old Ma holds onto as I take her to endless appointments, due to her recently diagnosed muscle disease, as she’s fearful of walking outdoors and falling.

My childish hands once held onto my parents’ hands as I crossed the street. My adult hands now hold onto my T’s hands.

I enjoy these moments as I know the day will soon come when T will want to walk on his own.

As a baby, toddler and boy, hands help T make sense of his world; to explore, play, communicate.

At his affectionate best, I enjoy T’s warm hugs. Giving each other high fives are satisfying.

At his challenging moments, T’s hands could hit you, hurl a toy across the room or at you, or slam a door with great force.

In fact, T is banging on the dining table aggressively as I type this, because the hubby is not giving him ice cream because he’s demanding it quite rudely rather than asking respectfully.

As a special needs parent, you often get obsessed with developmental milestones.

In the early days, I was laser focused on whether T was able to stack three blocks, use a spoon properly, or master the pencil grip.

I’m learning to let things go, figuratively and literally, in a year when my hands were very full with so many issues that were weighing me down mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’m learning to look at T’s often muddy hands in a new light. Little boy hands are supposed to be dirty. It’s a sign T is having fun playing and exploring outside at school and daycare.

The photo at the top was from this Fall’s Terry Fox Run for cancer research. T has become quite smitten with the late Canadian hero’s story.

As noted on the sign pinned onto his shirt, he ran for “Daddy and Papa”! His hands got quite muddy, dirt under his nails, from the outdoor play that day. I smile at this photo every time I see it. T is living his best life.

In another pandemic year, washing hands was a way to keep ourselves safe.

Tonight, I’m so ready to wash my hands of 2021.

For our final dinner of the year, I treated the hubby and I to a Kamayan feast, a Filipino communal-dining experience with an assortment of grilled meats and vegetables served on a bed of garlic fried rice and plated on a banana leaf.

Kamayan means “eat with your hands” and it is believed that Filipinos do this to break social boundaries and to build bonds with each other.

I’m not exactly looking to bond with anyone over coronavirus, so we kept the meal to the hubby and I; T was grossed out by the shrimp head.

I dropped off a separate Kamayan set with Ma and my Aunt beforehand.

My Aunt, who lives with Ma, has done the lion’s share of taking care of Ma since her stroke last year and now the muscle disease, and this was the least I could do to extend a hand of thanks.

The meal was delicious. The grilled eggplant, okra, bangus (milkfish) and calamari in particular were delicious. There was enough garlic fried rice leftover that I will serve with canned corned beef for my first brunch of 2022 tomorrow.

As the final minutes of 2021 tick away, the hubby and I will soon put T to bed, so we can binge the just-released new season of Cobra Kai.

I look at my worn hands, which tell their own story of what 2021 was like. I made sure to cut my nails and moisturize them today. I like to enter a new year on a cleaned up note.

I want to close off by saying thanks to all of you who follow along on the hubby, T and my journey. To those who take the time to comment, thanks for the support you’ve provided during an especially trying year.

Give yourself a hand for making it to the end of the year. Happy new year and wishing you all the best in 2022!

12 thoughts on “Kamayan and the Comfort of the Hand

  1. Wishing you and your family a happy New Year as well. I think many of us were eager to wash our hands of 2021 and move onto (hopefully) better things. Your post about hands really resonated with me and reminds me of something my uncle said at my grandmother’s funeral earlier this year about his memories of her hands. She used her hands to take care of her family and as over the years when those hands grew older, it became our turn to take care of her with our hands.

    1. Thank you, Linda. We just found out about the return to virtual learning today. So I’m ready to wash my hands of 2022. 😆😆😆 Oh God, I’m gonna be an alcoholic by the time this pandemic is over.

      Your story about your uncle and grandmother is very touching. Thank you for sharing that. It is so very true. Speaks to the circle of life we are all on.

      Happy new year and all the best to you and K over the coming days, weeks and months ahead!

  2. The Hand is the extension of our Hearts. It heals. It connects. It expresses love, caring and compassion. Thank you for being that Hand to your readers. You’ve inspired me through your words and stories in 2021, and just want to extend my gratitude and appreciation. Thank you. Happy New Year my friend and best of blessings to you and your family for 2022.

    1. That is so very true about the hand being an extension to our hearts! I also read somewhere that Filipinos believe in the circle as the symbol of good fortune and the Kamayan and enjoying a Kamayan feast is part of that circular symbol.

      Happy new year and all the best in 2022. Hopefully it’s better than last year! 🙏😆

  3. I love your opening photo and all that symbolizes around childhood, family, and community. I do always see the love your hold for those in your life Ab, and am wishing you, T, your husband, and mom all the best in 2022. <3

    1. Thanks LaDonna for your kind comment. I love that photo a lot too even though the OCD in me gets a bit anxious about his muddy fingers and nails. 😆 I’m learning to let things go. 😆 Wishing you and your family all the best in this new year ahead too!

  4. I love the hand imagery you wove through this post. Brilliant! And what a beautiful feast you made.

    I’m sorry about your mother’s stroke and muscle disease. Bless you for taking care of her too. Wow, your hands are full!

    So, so grateful to have met you, Ab! Now I need to go take care of my hands because you’ve inspired me! <3

    1. Thanks Wynne! By the way, I didn’t make the feast. I just ordered it and it came out of the box like that. 😆

      Moisturizer is half the trick! 😆

      Happy new year and enjoy the rest of your vacation with the kids!

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