Home I have none
Christmas in my country is such a big deal. The Philippines celebrates the Christmas season the longest. The countdown starts first day of September, when Christmas songs, greetings, and decors fill the air. We call the season the “BER” months, as the Christmas spirit runs all through the four months ending in BER … September to December.
I grew up wishing for a wishball. Every Christmas season I used to hang a sock on the Christmas tree and wish for Santa Claus to drop a single coin, just a single coin, to reinforce my belief that he exists … that he provides for wanting children like me. And yes, your guess is right! Santa Claus never came! … I watched out…I did not cry…, I did not pout…, and I was always good for goodness sake…, because Santa Claus is coming to town. But he never came. I used to wonder how far was the North Pole to where we lived in Mindanao that, always, Santa could not make it to where I was. I wondered if Santa discriminated colored children that he always missed on me. I wondered if Santa ever ran out of gifts. I wondered if Rudolph could not make it to a tropical country because there is no snow where he could glide his sleigh about… until I outgrew the Christmas trees… and all my socks…
This Christmas, like the two Christmases past, I am not going home. I have decided to convert my vacation expenses into gifts and play Santa Claus to my family and friends. The cost of my round-trip airline ticket alone is fortune enough equivalent to jumbo packages and money transfers that is of great value to the recipients. Yes, I have reduced myself into a wishball and a distant voice on the mobile phone.
Destiny took me away from home, away from my beloved family, since I was sixteen. I was on my own, since then, but I always took all the chances to be home during Christmas. I have ugly memories of Christmas in the early years of my career. Even with the cool December breeze, I could flare up with fits of resentment on my being the beast of burden. I got into heated arguments with my father who resented the way I “usurped all his power” because I was the one who supported my siblings through school instead of him; who constructed the ancestral house instead of him; who extended support to my siblings’ own families and spend the most because his income as a public school teacher was barely enough to sustain even the most basic needs of a family of nine. My father’s ego was so bruised by the fact that my being the provider had reduced him to be less than the “man of the house”. I got the company of the young ones, leaving their parents (my siblings) powerless against me and helpless in their off-springs caprices. I give them money but I get so upset when they end up buying things I do not want them to have! In short, I was so miserable that I made everybody miserable. I was almost a scare to my family.
My love for my father and his love for me has always been beyond question. But his pride and my resentment clashed beyond proportions, and the whole family suffered in agony. My father’s pride of having me for a daughter pushed me to achieve and excel, but it was the same pride that drove me to the utmost limits of endurance. It took so long and so much for us to work our way back into each other’s hearts … and praise the heavens we did!
So where was Santa when I waited for him in vain? He was somewhere giving a fake baby to a lonely little girl who had no baby sister to play with. He knew there always was a real lovable baby in my big and ever expanding family to hug and laugh with and who always gives back the love beautifully!
I have realized with amazement that Santa Claus has nowhere to go home to because the universe is his home. He has no family of his own because he is everybody’s family. The ceramic piglet on my office table grinned at me with the quote that I have ignored all this time: YOU MAKE A LIVING BY WHAT YOU GET, BUT YOU MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT YOU GIVE.
For many Christmases now I celebrate a pleasant realization. Santa Claus never came to me because I always had the best - my golden memories of survival and my family’s enduring, relentless and unconditional love.
Many other Santa Clauses around the world are not coming home this Christmas, I know. Our overseas contract workers have as well transformed into wishballs despite the loneliness, difficulties and challenges of being in a strange and sometimes hostile environment – painfully away from home, away from everything they hold dear. Santa Claus has proliferated around the globe, even in places where people do not believe in him and do not know what Christmas is all about.
I believe in Santa Claus. He is not a myth, and maybe it’s true he still lives in the North Pole. One thing is certain, though, he has preached his life well enough to have recruited millions to his cause. Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer with a very shiny nose has turned his sleigh into a Boeing 747, a cargo vessel, or a delivery truck carrying loads and loads of gifts all across the earth, while his master is grinning in peace and contentment, correctly certain a good part of humanity has taken up his mission and he is still counting. I saw him wink at me as he added me to his list.
Home I have none … because, like Santa Claus, the world is my home and humanity is my family.