Truth be told, this hasn’t been my favorite year. I have had to deal with multiple character-testing challenges (more savage than the usual—but that’s another story) and unwelcome surprises—like the fact that this is the first time I’m spending Christmas without my whole family. Both of my parents, along with my two youngest brothers, are abroad. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to book an earlier flight in time for Christmas so that means my three brothers and I who are staying here in the Philippines had to ring in the holidays on our own. Still, I know I’m lucky. I mean, in my 24 years of existence, this is the only time so far we’re not spending Christmas day as a whole. I’m well aware a lot of other people have it harder than me. But that’s the thing: Christmas has always been my favorite holiday—and I realize now that one of the reasons why is our family always finds a way to celebrate it together—including that one year that’s particularly rough on all of us. They say Christmas is all about spending it with the people that matter to you the most. And I guess that never hit me as hard as this year.
Though my brothers and I tried our best to recreate the magic of Christmas here in our part of the world, it’s undeniable the spark just isn’t the same. Like everyone else, I have always seen this time of year with rose-colored glasses. I’m not exactly young anymore, I know that. But Christmas has a way of making me feel like a kid again; like I’m seven and eagerly waiting for the clock to strike 12 so I can finally open my presents. Being back with your parents does that to all of us, I guess. And I think that’s part of the reason why I’m always looking forward to the holidays: to be that little girl again; to be young and carefree and optimistic about everything. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but somewhere along the line, I’ve become this anxiety-ridden ball of mess. So I’m basically emotionally taxed most of the year, yet in the past, it all somehow abates come Christmas time. The holidays, in short, give me the respite I need from my own shambolic mind. And given the difficult year I had, I was really looking forward to it now more than ever. Sadly, the anxiety followed me ‘til Christmas eve. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just adulting.
Honestly, I didn’t mean to write such a depressing, #emo piece for Christmas. This is weird for me too. But I will say that there’s a silver lining to this. Next year marks a big change for our family. My parents and two brothers are coming back and officially settling here again! That’s at least one thing I can look forward to in 2019.
In the meantime, I would like to say, for those whose holiday is just as sh*tty as mine is, hang in there. The new year is almost here, and we only have just a few more days to survive ‘til we finally get that fresh slate we all desperately need and deserve. Here’s hoping 2019 will be a whole lot nicer and kinder to all of us.
Art by Marian Hukom
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