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Where I am from, the most important day during the festive period is 24th of December – Christmas Eve. It’s when the family gathers at the sight of 1st star (to commemorate the star that led the three Kings to Bethlehem, you’re screwed if it’s cloudy…) to sit down for dinner. The dinner has to contain at least 12 dishes (as per the number of Jesus’ little helpers, don’t confuse with Santa’s little helpers). There is always a spare set left on the table, for the late (or the lost) visitor who might unexpectedly knock on the door and can be accommodated by the table. We say our wishes 1 to 1 while we break a small piece of a wafer (and it has embossed Christmas patterns on it), we pray together and then sit down for the meal. Now that we’re all fed, time to clean up a bit in hope that during this whole commotion, one might not notice the Santa arriving and dropping off all the presents (quick scramble up and down the rooms for places used for hiding gifts) and then we unwrap…
All with a fireplace warmth in the background if the dinner is happening at our home, it’s a rotation between aunts and uncles really…

As far as I could remember, it would snow back home starting early December, not much (sometimes more), but enough to cover the world with a magical duvet of whiteness and delicate minus temperatures. Back then (about 2 decades ago), it wasn’t all about commerce and blasting the shit out of you with cheesy Xmas tunes left right and center in each store, or at least it didn’t feel like that. I would “feel” Christmas inside, just by noticing the fact it’s getting cold and snowy and the season is breaking into winter. Now, it’s all just a f..king shopping spree… Look around when you walk the streets of any bigger city before the festive period begins and tell me what you see.

One of my worst experiences so far (it wasn’t all that terrible, I am exaggerating) was when I went back home in 2008 or 2009, and for the first time since I can remember (I can remember as far as 1980, anything earlier is just a blur as I was born early 1980), it was drizzling, raining even and the temperature was plus 5 or something. Felt like the miserable UK if you ask me. Hated it. Felt no Christmas at all… Yes, there was family of course and togetherness, love and affection, but the background just wasn’t there, it all felt a little fake…

Last year, as I wasn’t planning on going home, I decided I needed to do something with myself rather than rot in my apartment and wait for my parents to reproach me via skype for yet again not being there, and booked a week in Port Vila, in Vanuatu. Phone off, it was great! I tell you that much, Christmas tree, carol singing, etc. in the tropics is something I just can’t digest… So to help overcome the issues, I was out snorkeling the shit out of myself, quad biking around the island and enjoying friendliness of the locals. Loved it.
I did that on purpose to keep myself busy and away from all the madness, besides second half of last year, for once in my 35 year life, was about me and what I want, not what others want or expect of me.

I guess I wanted to go home for Christmas this year and feeling the sentiment. Due to choices I have made a few weeks back, I didn’t go… Would have been nice I think.

Just to finish it off on a high, I wish you (whoever you are) all the best, lots of love, affection, happiness, heart warming feelings, wherever you were spending your Christmas and may all those feelings stay with you for as long as you can sustain them. Merry Christmas.

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