My job involves a lot of Facebook. While I sometimes rue the fact that I don’t do something as exciting as journalism or something as noble as teaching, I love how much I get to read a lot of stories from people with open security settings. This Christmas, as I was doing the my rounds (sometimes bemoaning the fact that this will have to be part of the Christmas vacation routine), I found some rather interesting stories this season.
There was this girl who broke up with her boyfriend and was experiencing the saddest Christmas ever. There was this woman who got a whole set of gadgets from her husband. There are the friends and acquaintances who take the time to greet all of their friends Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Although some stories did capture my heart this season: small reminders of what Christmas was all about.
One status message was about a mom working abroad, in the middle of the economic crisis, not being able to send gifts to her children and relatives back in the Philippines. The shoes and TV sets will have to wait until she gets back on her feet, so now Christmas will have to be with her friends over at the boarding house.
Another was about a father who failed on his promise to return to the Philippines this Christmas, saying that his job was on the line; the economy was so bad he had to work. He apologized, knowing that his family was expecting him to be back after five years, but that promise will have to wait another year.
So many stories about parents and children not being able to be with their loved ones during the Holidays, reminiscing about noche buena, vowing that the simple fare they had for Christmas dinner before would be replaced with more delicious meals one day, if only they could go back to the Philippines.
And how they miss their families and friends. How they miss the merriment, the happiness, and the joy of being with your loved ones on Christmas. It took me a while to realize how much I had it in for my own Christmas dinner: festive fare, dazzling lights, and of course, my whole family under one roof.
As the bus made its way to Baguio, I thought the Christmas spirit was lost along the roadside, with so many houses not having lights, some families eating Christmas dinner under the lamps of stopovers, even if it was just a bottle of soft drinks and a bag full of sandwiches. They’re as complete as that family a couple of thousand years ago who spent the very first Christmas among animals in a stable (or cave), and some had to celebrate theirs on Facebook status messages.
In the end, I found what Christmas was all about. As I was done making my rounds, I found the meaning of Christmas, tucked away in Facebook status updates. Not from those who were celebrating it, but from those who didn’t have the lucky grand time most of us have.