This time of the year is usually spent with countless friends and relatives, attending various Christmas parties and binging on holiday favorites like Bibingka and Food for the Gods. I’d be dressed in my Christmas best, trying not to fall asleep during Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo…whichever I manage to lug myself out of bed to attend.
I’d be going from one party to another, hardly able to rest in between but loving it all the same.
Christmas 2011 with some of my favorite women in the world!
Noche Buena would be absolutely stressful with the insane amount of preparations needed, but all that exhaustion would disappear and be replaced with excitement and warmth at the knock of the first guest. My house (or anyone’s house) would echo laughter, cheer, and Christmas carols sung charmingly out-of-tune by that one uncle who loves wine and karaoke a little too much.
I can’t even begin to describe the lights and decorations, but know that they would be absolutely gorgeous, especially the capiz shell parols.
The following day would be spent at my lola’s oven of a house, the heat made bearable by the presence of cousins and titos and titas. All kinds of food would be laid out on the table to accommodate the vegetarians, pescetarians, and meat-eaters in the family. There’d be some Swedish dishes too care of Timmy and Sandrine, my half-Swedish cousins. For dessert, perhaps one of Nevin’s many delectable pastries or home-made ice cream creations.
Of course, we’d gather around the Christmas tree for the traditional Herras family photo. It’s still a wonder how we all manage to squeeze into such a small space and still look like we’re breathing normally.
Then the opening of the presents, which threatens to initiate hyperventilation in my younger cousins (although that has yet to happen).
With the Philippines having the longest Christmas in the entire world, the festivities would go on until the Feast of the 3 Kings, in which we’d all find ourselves back in the oven, checking for what we got in our Christmas stockings.
I imagine that this is how it’s going in the homeland; a huge contrast to my quiet Christmas in the US. I haven’t really been hit with homesickness since I got here, but it’s starting to ht me now.
It isn’t a bad Christmas, just a quiet one. And for anyone who knows me, “Quiet” and “Karsie” aren’t exactly synonymous. Hahahaha! But then again, as I find myself wishing that I could be part of the festivities back home, I think of my dad who I am spending this Christmas with, and how much more he must miss the homeland. He’s been here for about 5 years, and has spent only 2 out of 5 Christmases in the Philippines. The rest of his Christmases were spent here, working, away from his family. And even on the Christmases he did get to spend with us in Manila, the family still wasn’t complete. You see, my Kuya and his family are in Canada, my Ate and her family are in the Bay Area, and Mom and Bianca are in Manila (and back then, I was in Manila too). But now we’re spread apart even more and I can’t help but feel a little jealous (okay A LOT jealous) of families who are celebrating together.
But it’s only a matter of time before my family can be together again, and I know that in his heart, that’s all my dad wants.
So as we spend this Christmas together, I am thankful that my dad isn’t spending yet another one alone. Sometimes, it’s better to have a simple and quiet celebration to really make the most of our time together 🙂
Me and Dad (SoCal)
Kuya, Ate Girlie, Justin, and tita Ces (Canada)
Photos from Ate and Kuya Mike in the Bay Area and Mom and Bianca in Manila to come! 😀
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! HAVE A BLESSED ONE!