Christmas Away From Home? Why Not!

Everyone dreams of coming home for Christmas. It is a given. Ever since childhood, it wouldn’t be Christmas if we were not home.

Sadly, that concept of longing to be home is at times shattered, due to inevitable work schedules or non-negotiable overseas commitments.

For most of us, residing abroad is a temporary phase in one’s life. Somehow, someday, sooner or later, I will find myself on my way home. So, take a pause — while on foreign shores, why not experience the holiday season elsewhere?

I have been blessed to join Christmas celebrations in other countries, such as a long-overdue catch-up sessions with an old friend in Valetta, Malta. He came from a family whose patriarch was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the island, plus several other members who were priests and nuns and at the very least, dedicated catechists. I was very privileged to attend processions, services and rituals, complete with a multitude of choirs inside the grand cathedral.

I recall being with close friends in Manhattan in New York on extremely cold days, where I felt the hustle and the bustle of frantic shoppers rushing — and rushing — from one store to another. In the wintry evenings, I was dazzled and awed by the bright lights, seasonal sidewalk vendors and the presence of carolers everywhere.

I likewise accompanied my sisters in Madrid, Spain to a series of get-togethers — with distinct batches of extended family members and groups of friends that I met from different times of my studies and career — that spanned from desayunos to comidas, to una copa y dos y tres mas, before joining other branches of la familia for las cenas.

It is quite a memorable immersion, where I learned different practices from each culture. It gave a new meaning to Christmas — though the center is still and always will be the Christ Child.

Christmas is where your heart is — the essential factor to consider.

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