For the past 20 years of my life, Christmas was always meant to be spent with family. On my 21st, it isn’t. So today, Christmas 2017, I’m not even surprised I woke up with a heavy heart and started my day crying.
I came to think about how different life would be if I am back home. Normally, my Mom would buy us new clothes to wear for Christmas and on Christmas Day itself, my family would all go to church, eat out and watch a movie, then spend the rest of the day with relatives at home after — giving gifts and catching up. I never get the “Uy, tumaba ka” statement from the cranky Tita because 1. I don’t have a Tita like that and 2. What I get is, “Dami dami mong kumain, ‘di ka na tumaba.” I miss that.
I also came to realize how my Dad must have felt for the past Christmases he didn’t get to spend with us. I woke up this morning crying and thought, “So this is how my Dad felt during Christmas, alone, away from his family.” Damn, this is making me more emotional.
Growing up, we rarely get to spend it with my Dad because he’s working overseas. He’s been working abroad for 16 or 17 years now and fortunate we are that a few Christmases in almost those two decades, he got to spend with us. He left when my brother was 1 and now, he’s in his 10th grade in High School. Imagine that.
Imagine how painful it is not seeing your children grow up and not being there to guide them personally. Imagine how painful and hard it is growing up without having a Dad who you can personally run to whenever you have problems you’re dealing with. How lovely it would have been if you have both your Mom and Dad hugging you whenever you feel like the world is against you. What a concept it must have been.
It’s much painful for me to think that I can’t even spend this day with my Dad. He’s here in Abu Dhabi, as well, but lives three hours away from me and is currently working. I should also be working now but I didn’t go to work because I’d rather spend my day talking to my family back home. I’m claiming that this rest is my Christmas gift to myself. Besides, a day cut from my salary won’t ever compare to the warmth and happiness I would feel seeing my loved ones even in just the small screen of my phone. I would also continue our tradition of going to church and would attend the mass later this evening.
To be honest, I didn’t even feel Christmas AT ALL. I only did maybe two or three days back because I tried to feel it and played Christmas songs all day long. I may have also mentioned this before on my past blog but majority of the people in this country are Muslims and they don’t celebrate this holiday. It’s true when they say iba pa rin talaga ang Pasko sa Pinas; totally different spending Christmas back home. I grew up seeing Christmas decorations everywhere and hearing Christmas songs wherever I go. Nights won’t be complete without children roaming the streets, singing carols. They don’t do that here. You don’t experience things like that here.
I mean.. How could you not feel it in the Philippines when they started celebrating the holiday as early as September? Yup, that’s how it goes in my lovely but complicated country — four months of Christmas. Back home, you will really feel the positivity and good happy aura in the air kissing your skin. The festivity will be hugging you like a good old friend after not seeing each other for years. Smiles and greetings of random people will make you happy.
Don’t get me wrong. I celebrated Christmas Eve with my Auntie and our friends, we had a good Noche Buena last night, and I’m also planning to go somewhere later with my Aunt after talking to my family so all is well. It’s not that I’m not grateful because some OFWs really spend this day alone and what am I even crying about now?! I’m just homesick to the highest level but I am grateful. I’m grateful that I have food, shelter, and company — today and every day. I am more than grateful for everything that I have right now and I consider myself blessed that even if I’m thousands of miles away from home, I have a job and can provide for them even in my small little ways.
So this Christmas Day, I’m here to tell you to just be grateful for everything. Instead of looking for the things we don’t have, let’s focus on the things that we have. Even the small things are enough to be grateful! I may have cried so hard at the office’s washroom last night because I can’t leave yet and it’s already Christmas in the Philippines; may have cried when I called my Mom and realized I miss her so much on my way home; may have cried when I saw a sister giving gift to her younger brother because I should be doing it as well; and may have cried this morning when I realize how things are completely different now — but I know, everything will be fine. We will all celebrate special days with all of our loved ones soon and I can’t wait for that day to happen to each one of us. I won’t deny how lonely it is right now but what I’m sure of is we all deserve to be happy this Christmas Day. Let’s all find reasons to be one.
Merry Christmas, guys, and Happy Happy Birthday to the reason why we’re celebrating this day — Jesus. May God, the universe, or whoever and whatever you believe in, bless us all more and give us what we truly deserve in this crazy roller coaster thing called life. Happy holidays!