Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Survived Christmas 2009

I realize that people will make assumptions about me based on my blog entries, and that is 'unfortunate' because my posts are not intended to generalize the entire Filipino population.


The purpose of this blog is to illustrate the differences between the culture and lifestyle I was raised in, and the one I've been thrust into here in the Philippines. Not all of these experiences apply to everyone, but they all apply to me.


While spending the holidays here in the Philippines I attended seven different Christmas parties where I witnessed things like 'genuine generosity,' 'family bonding,' and 'heartfelt faith,' but these are things I have seen all parts of the world. Those are things that are not specific to the Philippines, but are representative of Christmas everywhere.


Therefore, I chose to focus my attention on the things that separate the Philippines from any other place I've ever been. And those things happened to be the vast display of homemade Christmas decorations, and the obnoxious and annoying... not so much, 'scary'... groups of "carolers," who don't so much sing, but instead blatantly ask for money.


Example...


Christmas morning.... Lee goes outside to take out the trash.


***


Boy: Merry Christmas.


Lee: Merry Christmas.


Boy: No. Merry. Christmas. Sir.


Lee: Merry Christmas.


Boy: You give me money. (Sticks his hand through the gate)


Lee: What? No. You give me money.


Boy: No. Carol sir.


Lee: You aren't caroling, you are just begging for money. Go "carol" somewhere else.


***


I'm all for Christmas, and giving and sharing; but I do not believe it is in the spirit of the holidays to feel entitled to something just because it is the holiday season.


Here in the Philippines, just like many other countries around the world, there are plenty of people who are less fortunate than others. These are the people that deserve a little extra help during the holidays, not the groups of perfectly well fed children that start ringing doorbells at 6:30 am Christmas morning.


Christmas should be a time to give and receive, but it should be something that is done from the heart, in the spirit of the season, not because it is expected of you. I can honestly say, that this holiday season in the Philippines has been a learning experience, and one that I will never forget.


I have been in the Philippines for eight months and I have experienced things that many people won't experience in a life time. Somethings have been challenging, and some have been life changing. There have been things I've never seen before... and some things I hope I never see again. All in all, it has been a privilege to share these experiences with you in 2009, and I hope there will be many more adventures in 2010.


Happy New Year!