I like to believe that everything has to be seen within a context and the same fact can be interpreted in different ways depending on the perspective and the information you have access to. They say the first step is the hardest, but every time I started dieting, Monday was the easiest day ever. Everyone says how easy it is to talk and everyone has an opinion about everything, but when you do it on the internet, where you’re exposed to the hatred of others, it’s not always so easy to read negative comments about what you believe. Many Brazilians say that Christmas should be celebrated with the family, but what to do when your family is 17,518.64 km (10.8855782231766 miles) away from you?
Yes, it’s holiday time and everyone starts and reflects on the past year. I have been trying to understand why certain dates make me feel more homesick than others, my conclusion is that the memories associated with a specific date make us want to relive those positive memories.
Spending Christmas away from my family is not an indifferent feeling for me, this will be my sixth year in China, but no year is the same. I remember the many Christmases I spent as a family. From the night before celebrated with my father’s family and the day with my mother’s family. To wait until midnight to eat, to play bingo and dominoes, and the feeling of celebrating the date in a special way.
When I was a little older, we moved to towns farther away from most of our family members, our Christmases were celebrated between my mother, father, brother, and me. They became what it means to be in a family, the four of us.
My first Christmas in China can be summed up in work, sadness, and loneliness. In the negative sense, the phrase can be understood. I had arrived in October, I was trying to get used to everything, and loneliness was something I was learning to deal with. Maybe the most difficult thing was keeping it to myself and not sharing these feelings with anyone because I believed that telling my family about it would only make it harder, it was something I wanted to overcome on my own. Reflecting on today, it was the best decision, because it made me mature and get along better with myself.
In Guiyang, my first Christmas, second in China, was a little more interesting, in addition to the dinners and friends next door, there was the discovery that Guiyang celebrated Christmas. The streets were full, the bars had few empty tables, artificial and colored snow spray war in the squares downtown (don’t ask me why, but here when I arrived, the Chinese bought artificial and colored snow and hoped to give midnight to play on each other). Unfortunately, this tradition has been lost and the Chinese in Guiyang no longer celebrate Christmas as they used to. With André here, my Christmases were closer to the conventional, there was a family, my brother and my brother-in-law also celebrated with us for two years, we had more friends.
Last Christmas was spent, once again, with friends, each preparing a dish, waiting for midnight, celebration, hugs, secret Santa, memories, and a house full of Christmas spirit. One of the few things about expatriate life, in such a diverse community, is the experience of sharing each other’s culture in a special way.
I celebrated Christmas with atheists, Orthodox, Muslims, and Jews. At no time did our religious difference drive us away, on the contrary. I remember the Christmas we spent at my house, a friend explained to us a little better about Judaism, how they celebrated and she even gave us a beautiful gift teaching us one of their traditional songs. Precious memories like this, photos, and videos will never replace, and I would hardly have the opportunity to experience them if I were in Brazil.
I remember so many times during Christmas time announcing to everyone that no one could forget that Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Christ and that it was a time to renew our faith.
Today, having the opportunity to meet and share Christmas with people who don’t see the date in the same way, I feel the need to recontextualize the date. I will still celebrate the birth of Jesus, but He preached love your neighbor and my Christmas will always be a date to renew my love for my neighbor, regardless of faith, race, gender, or any other label or minority that you want or belong to.
A Merry Christmas, with a lot of love in your heart and hope for better days.