Coping up with Christmas away from Pinas

This is my 9th year I'm not 'home' for Christmas and some people are consoling me for it, like I'm a down spirit needed to be lifted up.

Well, it's not really bad since my family is here. But there are just these Pinoy style of Christmas that we still dearly miss.

While the Philippines have started feeling the Christmas spirit as early as September, we're still waiting for summer to finish, for halloween to end.  The festive preparation begins only after 2nd of December, and the spirit ends right after 25th. 

But yuletide season in Dubai today has evolved quite well. It is not the same lame season as how it was nine years ago.  Being a nation of Islam has never been a deterrence to this country's respect to another's religion.  That respect has been very evident from the country's leadership to the people from all walks of life we see everyday. We see aplenty of Christmas trees and decors at malls, hotels and restaurants.  We received happy greetings from our Muslim and Hindu friends. We book parties here and there.

Christmas tree lighting is a big ceremony here. I always get invited to such events that I never realised is huge - because back home, it is very normal. Chorale groups sing as the gigantic trees shine brightly with lights, and we imagine that we're listening to 'carolling' back home.

Christmas songs play on the radio more frequently today than my first few years here - only to make many OFWs more emotional about the separation during the season.

In the Philippines, Jesus is the star of the celebration. But here, maybe because of religion, people look at Santa Claus as the highlight, save for the Filipino community.

Catholic religious practice Simbang Gabi in the UAE. But due to work schedule, we do it every night after office, unlike in the tradition that it has to be early before dawn.

We don't have authentic puto bumbong here. We have gingerbreads. 

Christmas is not an official holiday. We had to work while everyone back home is knocking from one door to another "namamasko."   If we're used to do monito-monita kris kringle at work every December, we have Secret Santa in Dubai which is also as fun anyway.

While in Pinas, one of the main events is the noche buena on Christmas eve, here it is the Christmas day brunch.  If we are used to 'hamon' and 'lechon,' here, we feast on roasted turkey and minced pies among others.

If Manila has Boom na Boom every Christmas, in the emirate we troop to Global Village.  If Filipinos are amazed at Policarpio street lights in Mandaluyong, we have the Downtown Dubai that is always glowing with lights any day of the year anyway.

Despite these differences, there is this one common thing we never fail to do, be it here or in the Philippines... shopping.

But I think the biggest thing we missed the most is the... *drum rolls please* Christmas bonus! I bet you agree.

The festive spirit here ain't that bad after all. It's the geographical separation that makes it really more emotional.  

Merry Christmas everyone!   

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