What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. – Agnes M. Pharo

Christmasing in the Netherlands
Christmasing in the Netherlands

Christmas has a way of turning half of the world population into happy, cheery people. But it also has the power to turn half of the world into emotional, longing creatures. I have to admit that I am not one of those. Whether it is a gift or a curse, you be the judge. Sitting at home sick at Christmas gives me a lot of time to wonder why I actually am not sad longing to be with my family at this time of year. Don’t get me wrong. Christmases with my family are also  the best ever. Like your Christmas with yours. We make the most of it and everything is also beautiful. Not necessarily white like here, but beautiful and all dressed up.

Christmas in the Philippines is the longest celebrated one the world over, they say. Christmas trees and decorations are sold in department stores when as soon as the -ber months arrive — September, October, November… you get what I mean. Sometimes you start hearing Christmas carols in the last stretch of August. To foreigners, this is beyond imagination. It gives them the impression that when Christmas day comes, it must already be flowing from your nose, ears and any other hole in your body that you can imagine. But what can I say, we are suckers for Christmas and we love to keep it that way. 🙂

So if one compares Christmas in the Philippines to Christmas in the Netherlands, it is indeed downplayed. According to the Dutch, it’s actually more commercialized now than before, with Christmas songs on the radio the whole day (since Sinterklaas left the country), Santa Claus and all. Maybe in the years to come, Christmas will also start in the Netherlands as soon as the -ber months arrive? Nah, thanks to the Sinterklaas tradition.

But I do also enjoy it here. It is not only that I can “live with it” but I actually enjoy the silence. I do have more than 30 godchildren, you know, so you can imagine how silent it is today. Nobody’s knocking at your door to say, “Mano po, ninang!” (I hope none of my kumares and/or kumpares are reading this!) 🙂

Kidding aside, I think that wherever I am, I will enjoy Christmas. Because that’s the power of Christmas over me, just the thought of Christmas makes me happy!

But to all my friends and acquaintances who have a hard time celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands, or in any foreign land, for that matter, and would trade anything to be home this season, this song is dedicated to you —

MERRY CHRISTMAS and may all your Christmas wishes come true! #