Going home – A balikbayan Christmas

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“Will I go home for Christmas?” For balikbayans that’s the question.

I never thought of Christmas as something to plan for because it’s always just there, a seasonal routine, but with a change in setting, colder weather and more food than usual.

But the reality for those of us who live abroad is that Christmas is months in the making. When you need to make a decision, how do you measure, measure Christmas?

In plane tickets.

In savings.

In 2 weeks of leave.

How do you measure a year, a year that you were away?

*Cue chorus of Seasons of Love* 

But really, being away is why reunions is a big deal for this time of the year. It’s a small, universal window of time when loved ones from all over the world can be at the same place, at the same time. This becomes more difficult with more of our friends and family moving away, building their own separate lives but it’s also what pulls the festive heart strings even harder.

Do we create memories in our new life or rekindle the nostalgia of the past?

In my first year abroad, I contemplated not coming home so that I could experience the holidays somewhere new.  My sister retorted then, “How can you imagine spending Christmas anywhere else?” with the 3-course homemade breakfast meals, noche buena and parols in Manila.

Admittedly, the more I come home, the more I get used to the idea of coming back to Manila for the holidays. Maybe it’s because I’m older now, and more attuned to my Asian upbringing that puts family first, then friends. No one is getting younger. Life is getting faster. If we can’t share the small moments with our loved ones anymore, then the least we can do is be there for the big ones when we can.

I know there will eventually be a year when I don’t fly to Manila, for one reason or another, but in the mean time I’ll measure the holidays in coming home.

Merry Christmas everyone <3

Christmas

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