December, the last month of the year is finally here! It also means that it’s CHRISTMAS time!
Christmas is one of the most festive and lively happy holiday season there is. When you go to the malls, you’ll find lots of beautiful decorations. Houses are lit with personalized designs by homeowners. Some would even go as to creating a full light show so that people who pass by can be treated to an awesome display.
But as jolly and festive this season is, it sometimes is the hardest for me. Usually this is my loneliest time.
Why, you ask? Because Christmas in the Philippines may be the same, but the feeling is much different.
Why is that, you say?
It is because if Thanksgiving is the biggest celebration here in America, back in the Philippines it would be Christmas.
Here in the US, during Thanksgiving, family reunions are held and the traditional Turkey dinner is served. It can really be likened to the Christmas Celebration, since it is a celebration of Thanksgiving and of the gift of family.
But who would also forget the much awaited Black Friday sale? Thanksgiving is a huge event here. When you talk about Christmas here, yes it is being celebrated but not by all.
Of course there is still the usual dinner and the exchange of gifts. But I have to be honest by saying that it is not as exciting or as lively as Thanksgiving is. And that is one of the main reasons why I am such in a reverie. Because Christmas is one of the things that I truly miss about the Philippines.
As early as end of September, you can hear Christmas songs played on the radio and in the PA systems in malls. As early as mid-November, people have already started to put up their trees and decorated their houses.
Even small businesses join in all the festivities. You can really feel the Christmas season all around the nation.
One specific tradition that we Filipinos uphold is the Noche Buena. Rooted from Spanish traditions (since the Philippines was colonized by Spaniards for over 300 years), families celebrate Christmas Eve by partaking of this feast to be shared by the entire family.
Most of the time it’s not just the immediate family, but rather the entire clan.
I have a huge family. My dad had 9 brothers and sisters so you can just imagine how branched out the family tree is already. Just take a look at the pics that I’ve kept from one of our Christmas reunions
I am usually the host of the party and I would have games for the kids, the teens, and of course the adults. I usually put on my game face on and we would have such a hilarious time!
Especially when it came to the oldies. Usually I’d have to explain the rules of the game like 3 times! (Sigh! Haha just joking I love them!)
Then after all the festivities, we would have our dinner. We Filipinos love to cook so we would always have a feast of Ham, Pasta, Fried Chicken, Morcon, Menudo, Roast Beef, Cake, Fruit Salad, Macaroni Salad.
The list goes on and on. Everyone stays until the clock strikes midnight, because that signals the birth of Jesus and each person goes around hugging and kissing and greeting us each a very Merry Christmas. It was such a wonderful moment every time. It just makes the family closer and united.
After all the greetings, it would be the exchange of gifts. Back home being a Godparent is a thing. You’d be surprised to know that I have 25 Godchildren, because friends and family have been asking me since I was 16.
Ironically the true meaning of being a Godparent is sometimes lost and is only attributed to having a responsibility of giving your Godchild a gift during Christmas.
But don’t worry, I do take to mind and heart my duty as a Godmother.
So during the party all the children (young and teens) line up in front of all the elders and they receive their gifts. Some give “Aguinaldo,” which is what we call the Monetary gift (I think they like receiving that more haha!). After all the festivities it would either end to some drinking (adults only, of course) or karaoke singing. Usually, everyone leaves by 2-3 AM already because it really is so much fun.
So this Christmas admittedly, it would be a little bit lonely again. I did have a chance to spend some parties with friends, but I guess I’ll be Skyping once again with them and because they’re a day early I would be celebrating with my family back home on the 23rd (Timezone problems).
I am actually feeling a lot more sad this year because I’ve gained a lot of friends back home through some affiliations and I’m the only one from here and all I could do is watch or Skype whenever I can.
I still of course love being here, don’t get me wrong. I actually have a lot of fun during Thanksgiving. And Hello? Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale? I know, I know I am a Shopaholic as with most people living in the US haha. But I really do look forward to coming home one time during Christmas time and relive our Old Christmas Family Tradition. I can’t wait to celebrate and eat Noche Buena with my family. Because nothing, nothing really beats Christmas in the Philippines.
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