Where is Christmas?
I remember a time when I was really excited at the thought of the coming Christmas day. I think I was still abroad then. Christmas in Phnom Penh was almost a non-holiday, observed by the few Christians and Catholics. There was a kind of simplicity about its observance/ celebration that I didn’t find anywhere. A few Christmases spent in Bangkok and in Saigon have shown me how these two non-Christian cities have succumbed to the more commercial aspect of this holiday.
The first Christmas I spent in the Philippines after spending almost 7 years in Cambodia, wasn’t particularly joyful. I was depressed. My father died less than a month before; no one in my family felt like celebrating. The year after that was almost the same. It was only this year that my family and I put up a Christmas tree–a sign of improving mood, surely.
Still, venturing out, I find myself un-settled by the seemingly overwhelming sights and sounds of a Filipino-style Christmas. Instead of cheering me up, it has the opposing effect. I always find myself thinking of past Christmases I spent in Phnom penh, with few carefully selected friends. Those times allowed me to focus on the communal aspect of the holiday. I miss those times. This is a tacit declaration that I am missing my old life in Cambodia as well.
Although I must admit, some aspects of the whole celebration, Pinoy-style, has begun to appeal to me again. Things like receiving gifts. Last night I attended my first Christmas party in two years. And with some new friends we had some after-party coffee until about 3AM.
So, all in all, things seem to be really looking up.
And, who am I to complain anyway? My life was not shattered by a natural calamity or ravaged by poverty, unlike many of other Filipinos. For that alone I should be thankful and grateful.