Christmas is Home

“Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!
This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?
Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost.”

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…And so, the holiday season is upon us once again.  I have begun getting into the same old warm fuzzy emotions and sentimentality I usually and consistently endure during Christmases and New Year’s (don’t we all?).  Thus, the venting out on Facebook.  Though the homesickness this year is more intense than expected, I still would want to relish the sentimentality and nostalgia of it all – simbang gabi and singing in our choir at 4:30 in the morning (thank God I’m alto); caroling either with my cousins and friends, randomly going from house to house or a better planned one with our Parish Choir; our small but well-lit and decorated Christmas tree beside our mama’s China cabinet full of wedding and birthday souvenirs, which she loves collecting till now; Christmas songs being played in and around malls (insert warm fuzzy feelings here again as I reminisce); the Christmas Display at Greenhills Shopping Centre; the Christmas lights and decos in Policarpio; the lingering smell of barbecued meat on Christmas Eve, and staying up till late for noche buena; and when I am much, much of a child, wearing my “pamasko” (new clothes and shoes bought especially for Christmas) when visiting ninongs and ninangs. These are just few of the many vivid Christmas memories (my happy place, if you will) I had growing up and it has been 5-6 years from the last I celebrated it back home.
Kids just love the Greenhills Shopping Center Christmas Display.  When I was a kid, it was held at COD in Cubao, which is one of the fondest memories I have.

Kids just love the Greenhills Shopping Center Christmas Display. When I was a kid, it was held at COD in Cubao, which is one of the fondest memories I have.

One of our simple joys during Christmas when in Pinas is driving around during the Christmas week.  I guess, it is the togetherness that counts really.

One of our simple joys during Christmas when in Pinas is driving around with the whole family to just about anywhere. I guess, it is the togetherness that counts really.

Do you remember them Home Alone movies? And just about any movie that portrays Christmas at any given angle. These damn motion pictures further magnify my already sappy state of mind right around the holidays. Perhaps, for the longest time, I have lived in an Islamic country where they don’t really celebrate it big time compared to the way we do. During which, I usually am at work unless I file a leave prior (when I am unable to contain my sappiness). In Sri Lanka, speaking from my husband’s account of their very own tradition, it is celebrated a bit more joyously and is actually a proper holiday, with the usual gift-giving and Christmas Eve dinner, though I am yet to experience it here for the first time.
I promised myself that I would be embelishing the house with our Christmas razzle-dazzle as soon as the “ber” months kicked in. So in September, being my birthday month and my hubby’s too at the same time, put out our well-stored Christmas tree and ornaments, but much to our frustration, the first floor, the very spot I have visualized to Christmafy, started leaking water from the heavy rains.  So, our early Christmas spirit had to be let down awhile until we rectified this problem first. It would take another 2 months before I can do anything about decorating our home at all and be able to play yuletide songs as much as I can and play it loud.  But finally, we did it…we are officially Christmafied!
Officially Christmafied copy
Like what I said, I have yet to discover what it means to celebrate Christmas in Serendib (one of the first few names Sri Lanka was referred to historically) all in all.  Once we put up all our yuletide twinkles, it felt more like home; every Christmas song may have been making my heart ache a little yearning for the good ol’ Christmas times, but makes me all the more grateful that I am with my husband and children, which of course doesn’t waver no matter how much I miss the rest of my family.  We do not have anything fancy planned.  Just, I want to be able to celebrate it with my husband and sons the way we would always want to – simply doing what we believe shows the true spirit of Chrismas, the old school way, practically reliving the most beautiful memories, close to being home, regardless whether we are here, in the UAE or in the Philippines.  Besides, in the words (in a song) of one of my favorite bands “Toad the Wet Sprocket”, “You can show me your home, not a place where you live but a place where you belong”. Forget about commercialism as many would consider it becoming; Christmas but comes once in 365 days. One thing is certain, we are already making the most out of it.  I know I am.  I was presented with an opportunity to volunteer as an English instructor with the Dominican Fathers Seminary in Ketawala, teaching children of the nearby villages and I couldn’t be happier and couldn’t feel more belong now, more than ever. Hopefully, I can share more of this endeavor with everybody later on.  In the meantime, I end this note with the warmest Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, from my family to yours.  May all our dreams come true!
“Read more about fellow #TrailingSpouseStories at:
  • Didi’s story on D for Delicious  on how Christmas abroad start out tearful, but after some time, it turns tearless
  • Yuliya’s story on Tiny Expats on their journey and experience of winter holidays in 6 countries along the way.
  • Abigail’s story on Cuddles & Crumbs on a look back on what we have been doing on Christmas and slowly working on our family traditions.
  • Tala’s story on Tala Ocampo on how the Ocampo’s spent their first Christmas abroad in Colombo, Sri Lanka celebrating not only Christ’s birth but also the birth of their daughter Luna.
  • Marie’s story on laughlovepractive on how times change, Christmas celebrations change. But one thing keeps it the same.
  • Glendale’s story on G’s Kandy Krush on how she is celebrating my first Christmas in Sri Lanka, where she resides with her husband and 2 sons.
  • Third’s story on Pinoy in America on how Pinoys have successfully brought the Philippines’ best-loved Christmas customs and traditions to America.
  • Marc’s story on Fatherland, explaining how Christmas is different this year compared to past Christmases. 
  • Jenny’s story on My Mommyology on how Christmas in Manila or in the US is different every year with the kids.  Or is it the same?”
  • Kristine’s story on Tala Ocampo where Mac shares her reflections with Tala on spending Christmas away from home for a total of 15 years”
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