By: Jho Ann Dumlao
“People making lists, buying special gifts, taking time to be kind to one and all. Everywhere there’s an air of Christmas joy…”
This song I heard playing in the shop reminds me always of the time of festivity in my place in the Philippines. Yes, it’s Christmas time, the most awaited and most festive celebration every year. And we can call it “stress season” for some as well, I think. The Christmas spirit makes people selfless, more friendly, more kind and nicer, and more forgiving (reconciliation). It’s about spreading love and peace. Us, Foreign Domestic Workers, how do we cope up in celebrating this season?
Lucky are those who are going home in this season to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. While others will just fill up a “balik bayan” box with goodies and send back home; a way for some to make their loved ones happy despite their absence. Christmas away from home is not that easy. We miss attending the early morning masses (simbang gabi) that starts every 16th of December and ends at Christmas Eve. Some people especially Catholics believe that if someone has completed the whole phase of “simbang gabi”, whatever they wished and prayed for will come true. The so-called caroling or singing Christmas songs from house to house and in return the household will give something like money or in any kind. And of course, the Noche Buena in which the family members get together over dinner full of chats and celebration. This is after the Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass. Christmas is also a good time for reunions.
We are doing so many sacrifices abroad that we missed a lot of grand celebrations or happenings back home. We can’t do otherwise; we don’t own our time either. Some of us just stay in the four corners of our employer’s house during Christmas. However, let’s just think that we are doing this not for ourselves but for our loved ones, for their better living situation.
Far away from home, we can still make our Christmas a merry one together with our friends, our family away from home. And may the spirit of Christmas reign in our hearts.