Five and a half hours before Christmas. This same time last year, we were together as one family in South Cotabato in the Philippines: my parents and my five other siblings, two are already working (my sister and I), my two brothers who were still studying in college, and my two sisters (one in high school and our youngest in her second grade in primary school).
This Christmas, however, is different. I’m here in Vietnam studying. My sister and my younger brother in Pampanga are now working for a BPO company, my two other siblings who are in Iloilo decided not to go home, and our parent in Mindanao with our youngest sister.
I called my eldest sister this afternoon when I came back from school after she sent me an sms that she missed me. She is the most emotional in the family, the one who easily cried when teased, the one who had to go back home several times when she left for college because she couldn’t bear to be alone, the one I am closest with. She told me that our younger brother has to work from seven this evening until tomorrow morning, therefore celebrating his Christmas while taking call.
I’ll call my mother later for I know that by this time all the lines are busy.
As for me, I’ll just let this pass, probably sleep a little later tonight and send emails to friends I’ve met and temporarily forgotten. I have piles of dirty clothes filling up two laundry baskets. I’ll wash them after I am finished writing this post.
Christmas is a communal concept. If all of a sudden everyone decides to stop celebrating Christmas then it’ll stop to exist. Like all other things we choose to forget, it will silently just die a natural death.
All the happy memories I have of my childhood were during Christmas eves. They are the most colorful, the most difficult to forget, the most important. However, tonight, a Christmas eve spent washing dirty clothes, is not very bad. This Christmas eve will add to my memories of past Christmas eves when I was with my family eating during the Noche Buena, or trying to avoid sleep because I didn’t want to think about being away from them on that special night. And now soaking my clothes, adding detergent, and hanging them later after finishing a cycle just in time before the clock strikes midnight.
Probably next Christmas eve will be different. Probably I’ll spend it with my family in Mindanao. Probably I’ll do something less tiring than washing two baskets of soiled clothes.
Merry Christmas everyone.