In a long time that is … This is the first Christmas since 2002 that I had spent abroad. I had been in the Philippines the previous years with its usual joviality and often prolonged celebrations.
It is a fact that the Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration starting when the months hit "ber". So, from September to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, Filipinos celebrate Christmas by playing Christmas songs on the radio, putting up Christmas lights and other decors in their houses and shopping in Christmas-ready stores.
I was a little worried that it would be a sad Christmas here because I had heard my family and other Filipinos complain about it. But this year, I think it wasn't so bad. Actually, I can call it a typical Filipino Christmas. It's the people that make it so not the place.
My family and I went to Midnight Mass to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ then we had Noche Buena which is Spanish for "Good Evening" but I think we just have it to mean good dinner. So we stuffed ourselves with traditional Filipino food.
We had some guests over and we had someone from the UNAIDS. She's British-Candadian and had previously been assigned to the Philippines and brought along her own magic mic to the party. It was great!
We were dancing to ABBA's "Dancing Queen" and singing to songs strummed by a family friend. I wouldn't have known I wasn't in the Philippines. It was just as happy to celebrate Christmas or even happier.
It's also the first time in a long time that I've given gifts again. I didn't have enough money before to give everyone a gift but this time I was able to buy everyone in my family and some friends gifts. I am flat broke but I am happy to know they are happy. I guess that's why it's called the "Season of Giving".