Tonight will be Christmas! I believed each one of us are occupied with the last minute Christmas preparations – wrapping up gifts, cooking “Noche Buena” meals, phoning and texting friends and families, visiting love ones, and waiting for the clock to strike 12 midnight – then the normal tradition begins.
I grew up in family with close connections and truly rejoice Christmas as an important event of our life. I remember, at this very day, we are all set for the whole day festivity. The Christmas carols played over the radio are the music that wakes me up in the morning. At the kitchen, mom and our house helper prepare delicious food for dinner. Then we pack up everything and heading to our hometown to be with our relatives and love ones. In the evening, we dressed up for the holy mass. It is one thing we don’t miss because the sacred homily strengthened our faith and enliven our souls. After all, Christmas is for Jesus and the reason for celebrating this season. Then we are all gathered in the living room like a one big happy family along with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. One by one, we distributed our little box of love and kindness – our simple Christmas gifts. You can see big smiles that radiate happiness within our hearts. The “Noche Buena” table is filled with our favorite cuisines like menudo, afritada, pancit, roasted pork, cakes and desserts. While having dinner, we chat and have really good talk while taking pictures to capture moments of our reunion. This is our regular family doings on Christmas day.
When my family and I relocated to Oman three years back we created our own Christmas practice. We normally have get-together dinner with our Filipino friends and exchange gifts with one another. I cooked meals which I learn from my mom and aunts and brought to the party in time for “Noche Buena”. We have party games which kids will enjoy so much and the singing videoke for the adults. On Christmas day, we attended the holy mass in Muscat and have dinner in one of our favorite restaurants.
Regardless of all, I felt that something missing. I know I should be glad that I live here and now with my own family. You see, Christmas in Philippines is totally different. Christmas is observed by everyone. People are giving messages of gratitude and showing acts of kindness. Religious believers are going to church for the mass celebration. Houses are gleaming with Christmas decorations. Kids are caroling in the neighborhood. Gifts and presents are given to love ones. Firecrackers create noise in almost every street corner while fireworks brightened the dark sky with dazzling colors and amazing shapes. Adults are happily drinking, singing, and dancing otherwise partying until early morning. Above all, we are all surrounded by our friends, families, and love ones. They keep the true essence of Christmas reigns in our heart and mind.
These things still help me feel homesick. So, If Santa Claus is real and can hear me, then, all I want for Christmas is for us to be HOME. It’s always been my Christmas wish since then.