I am so concerned about getting homesick ever since I arrived here in France. More so that it’s the holiday season, I felt that it would really be hard for me to enjoy it considering that it’s the first time I am celebrating Christmas outside the Philippines aside from the fact that this is the longest I have been away from family and friends.
In an apartment inhabited by four different nationalities (2 French, Spanish, Slovenian and Filipino), I woke up this Christmas eve morning alone. Four eventually decided to spend it elsewhere and I decided that I wanted to stay in Paris. Luckily, my manager saved me from a potential homesickness attack when he invited me last Wednesday to spend the Christmas eve dinner with his entire family – “Noche Buena” French-style.
I have enjoyed myself seeing how they celebrate Christmas – with a very sumptuous meal course, various fine wines, sugary delights, lively conversations among family members, a unique gift-giving tradition where kids peer from the kitchen’s glass-paned door to see someone dressed up as Santa Claus place gifts below the Christmas tree in the living room (while he’s eating a carrot and drinking milk) and finally seeing everyone enjoy the gifts they got (I received one too!).
It was a big celebration as there were 22 family members and then me. I thought it would be kind of awkward at first but I was pleasantly surprised that everyone has been genuinely warm and accommodating. Indeed, it has been a memorable Christmas 2011! I may not have been with my real family this year but it was great experiencing it with a French family who knows how to celebrate it well.