CHRISTMAS IN A FOREIGN LAND

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By Ninfa Flores

I have been in this country for more than 20 years, but celebrating Christmas in the land that I can now call home is far different than my motherland.

When I was young and the months started to change into ‘BER’ like October, I would always ask my Grandma and Aunty to put our tree up, and they would always say ‘no’ because it was too early for it! The reason I wanted to do it was so I could start decorating, and by the time it was December, everything was set up and only presents were missing from under the trees. Those where the days, but here I noticed that some people don’t even put their trees up if it isn’t December yet, and some don’t put a tree up at all as they don’t celebrate Christmas. Others say that we don’t have children at home so we can’t be bothered to put it up.

Most shopping centres have Christmas decorations already for sale, but decorations around the centre are not up ‘till second week of November. I remember one shopping centre didn’t have their decorations up ‘till the first week of December. It’s sad that they don’t have the ‘Christmassy’ feeling.

As December is fast approaching, that feeling of loneliness is also reappearing inside of me as I am counting another Christmas away from home, and I can just imagine how busy it is there right now. Some of the people have started preparing or organising what they need to do for Christmas; for example organising parties, the food they will need, and don’t forget the fireworks for the end of year celebration (New Year). The Christmas carollers will be knocking on every door, singing their hearts out to show that Christmas spirit is something that this country doesn’t have.

Christmas eve is the highlight, as we all go to church and listen to God’s word then come home and start preparing for the midnight feast. Yes we eat at midnight and stay awake waiting for the Christmas morning and the best part is opening presents. Christmas day we all sleep in! No just joking this is the day that most family gatherings will happen. We have a nice lunch and good conversations, then go and visit our Godmother or Godfather to collect presents.

After celebrating Christmas its time to plan for new year’s eve… hmm, buying fireworks, as my country is allowed to light it up – as an old tradition, fireworks can drive bad spirits away.

So what is Christmas really all about? People who are Christians believe that its the day that the son of God was born, and for some it’s just a holiday for the family to get together and enjoy. Some people think that Christmas is for little children, so they need to celebrate. Being away for so long from my family, the only people that I have is my two girls who constantly remind me that Christmas is not far away, we need to put our tree up and start decorating it. But to tell you frankly I have never felt the Christmas spirit at all, maybe because I’m still expecting the same feeling I had back home, its time for me to let go and get used to what I have now. By saying that, do I really have to up and forget the things that I used to do, or maybe I might start to feel it here if I just believe in it much more.

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