Christmas Days of Yore

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Last night, as I lie still on our bed trying to sleep, I imagined the Christmases that were. Christmas past. I just seemed to me that Christmas seems to lose its attraction with every passing year. I pondered on whether the saying that Christmas is only magical to kids was true after all.

I remembered when I was probably nine years old. It was November and already we had Christmas decorations strewn all over the household. The Christmas tree was already assembled (yes, these were plastic pine trees as these trees don’t actually grow in abundance in the Philippines) and decorated, tinsel was taped along the walls of the living room, fake mistletoes (again, mistletoes are rare in the Philippines) hang from the ceiling, a Parol (a Christmas lantern hung on the ceiling outside the front of the house) and my Mom, Grandma and Grandpa would play Christmas music whenever given the chance.

I flipped through the Christmas LP albums (no CDs yet or at least, we couldn’t afford it then) we had and look at the album covers. I remembered looking at one of the Filipino Christmas albums where it depicted an old Church lit from the inside in a cool Christmas night. The midnight mass just finished and people are starting to leave for home to have their Buena Noche (a Filipino midnight dinner/feast on Christmas Eve) while others stay behind buying putobumbong (a ricecake-like food traditionally sold during the Christmas season outside churches)at the food stalls nearby. There were houses made of nipa and bamboo nearby with parols hanging by their windows.

I remembered feeling nostalgic when I saw this picture even though I was too young to feel nostalgic about anything at the time. I mean, I didn’t really saw a rural Christmas-time setting before then.

I felt the same way when I saw the cover of an album of an American Christmas album. This time, it was a busy early 20th century Londonesque street covered with snow. There are a lot of people making last minute Christmas shopping and the street was filled with Christmas decoration.

Recalling this memory of 20 years ago, I felt sad. What made me even sadder were the other things that made Christmas a very happy and joyous holiday for me.

During my pre-teen years, I remember eating Noche Buena not only with my immediate family, but with my aunties and my cousins (my Mom’s sisters and their children). We would wait for midnight and count down to the last second then greet everybody a “Merry Christmas.” In years to come, we would still have these Christmas-time family reunions even if they weren’t done on Christmas eve.

I guess ultimately, in the Philippines, from what I remembered while I was there, there’s this great anticipation for the coming of Christmas. People would start having this feeling right after another traditional Filipino holiday called Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) or Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead – what we call All Saints Day – 1/11 and All Souls Day 2/11 collectively).

You’d hear Christmas music being played on the local pop stations. You’d see the city streets and buildings all gawdily decorated with red and green. You’d see the street-side shops that sell the parols. You’d hear the kids singing Christmas carols outside starting on the 1st of December (sometimes even earlier).

Well, it’s nothing at all like that here in Australia. There is no feeling of anticipation (at least for me). It’s like the 21st of December today and Christmas is a few days away yet it’s just like any other day. And Christmas vacation would be like any other one week vacation. The joy I used to experience around this time of year is markedly absent.

I only wished we did have the money and the vacation leaves to be able to go home to the Philippines and spend Christmas there. Maybe next year, it will actually be a “merry” Christmas for us.

Maybe next year.

Published in: on December 21, 2004 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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