It was the first week of December when Angeline was helping her mom to put Christmas decorations at home. She and her mom built their eight feet Christmas three (with various decorations such as Christmas balls and a long strand of red ribbon) and placed it behind their sofa at their living room and lately they hang three medium size parols at center of their huge French windows. They also put Christmas lights afterwards at their veranda (terrace) and then they turn it on. Angeline-an eleven year old girl-and her family has always done this Christmas decoration habit as every Filipino family do.
As the climate gets colder-which you have to ware thick clothes at night and also in break of dawn- and while most people are busy in going to shopping malls to buy some stuff for gift-giving, Angeline was also busy in thinking about what could be his father’s Christmas gift to her. Her Father who is been working in Saudi Arabia as a driver in a huge shipping company in three consecutive years has missed the ambiance, happenings and spirit of Christmas at his beloved country. He was expected to arrive home soon from Saudi at that time. The young and sweet little chubby girl Angeline wonders how many days long before her father would come home. After minutes of wondering, Angeline fell asleep on the mat, maybe due to the Christmas song (various songs of Jose Mari Chan and Leo Salonga) that her mother has played on the stereo.
It’s the 16 day for the last month of the year and Angeline was excited to go in the pre-dawn mass. Her mom told her that she will awake her around three in the morning so that they could attend the mass. Angeline who was ready to take asleep has suddenly remembered the time when she with her mom and dad has attended simbang gabi. She remembered that after the mass, they ate a couple bibingka at some puto bumbong. She fell asleep after she prayed that her dad would safely arrive at home before Christmas.
December 23, a few days later. Angeline’s dad has finally arrived at home. Angeline has finally felt the warmth love of her father. “Oh I really miss you daddy.” Angeline said while being embraced by him. “I ‘am very happy to be here Angeline. There is no other place in the word that could celebrate the merriest Christmas but this home, here at Philippines,” he said. Her dad elaborated to her that it is hard to celebrate Christmas abroad – particularly in Saudi. He said that Christmas celebration there is forbidden. Buying or building a Christmas three would cause him punishments against authorities. Christmas lights, memorabilia’s and other decorations will also do the same consequence. But her father told her that they have somehow (with his companion) managed to celebrate Christmas in a difficult way. He said that he and his companions have to go out of the main city to be afar from local policemen but still be watchful of them. There, they built tents to conduct parties such a little feast. They exchanged gifts, sang Christmas carols, drank some beer and wine, and ate some delicacies such as ham. Her father end his Christmas experienced abroad by telling Angeline that what matter is they tried and still manage celebrate Christmas even if they are in state of difficulty. After their conversation, they had dinner with ham and bread for that night.
Christmas day! Angeline was very happy at last because her family was finally complete at this special moment of her life. There is really no happiest day formost children than this. Angeline was happy to visit her godparents and to receive the blessings and gifts that they had given her. She was delight when she receives a talking doll given by one of her godmother. Later of that day, they went to cinema to watch the annual film festival. She had fun watching Enteng Kabisote while eating popcorns. Afterwards they went to a carnival where they ride carousel, bump cars and played video games. Angeline had a great time on that day. She was thankful to the One that granted her wish.
As the Christmas day pass and the new years have just arrived, her dad that told her that he has to go back abroad. But her dad promised to her that next year after his contract end in Saudi, he will came back at the first week of December and then he will brought her with her mom to France to celebrate Christmas there. He said to her that France celebrates Christmas as Filipinos do. He said that she will also see some different kinds of belen – that is made of figurines which they called santons. There, she will also taste some delicacies that are seasoned to eat during Christmas such as bûche de Noël and Galette des Rois, and there they will also attend midnight mass.
On the day of her dad departure (at the airport), Angeline asked her dad one strange question. She asks him of what country that he would prefer to celebrate Christmas? Her dad answer with no hesitation that it is his native land (Philippines) that he will still prefer. He said that we will just visit the other countries but this place will always be first in my heart and yours.
“Farewell my beautiful and beloved daughter. Keep on praying with your mom, and I will keep promise to be with you in the next Christmas. Goodbye honey,” her dad expressed with tears of joy.