Christmas is a time when we are surrounded by plenty of reminders. The lights on the houses, the big red bows in department store windows, and the bright reds and greens all over the restaurants make it very difficult to forget that it is the holiday season. This year, however, the reminders that I see are not just telling me that it is Christmas; they are telling me that I am home.
As my mom pulls out all of our Christmas decorations, I squeal with delight as the memories come flooding back. We assemble our plastic Christmas tree, which is as old as I am! I hang an ornament that I stitched when I was twelve. Setting up the nativity scene was always one of my favorite tasks, and every year it was saved for me. This year is no different.
There are even more reminders when I walk outside my front door and into the colorful city of Cebu. "Jingle Bells" and other holiday favorites are playing to a disco beat in all the department stores. Christmas stars made of colorful paper, cellophane, and light bulbs are hanging everywhere. Despite the suppressive, tropical heat, it’s still beginning to look a lot like Christmas -- the Christmas I know.
The Christmas I know isn’t filled with cold weather, sweaters, apple pie (made with real apples) and eggnog. While all of these traditional elements of the holiday season are cozy and wonderful, they do not usher me into the Christmas spirit the way my beautiful island does.
The reminders in this third world country are greater than just the sights and sounds. As we drive through the crowded streets and stop at every traffic light, little boys race to our car singing and playing their innovative instruments (bottle caps loosely nailed to a stick) in hopes of picking up some holiday change. During this season, the beggar population seems to double in size and desperation. Like every other culture, commercialism has invaded the spirit of Christmas as the malls jam with shoppers hunting...