BY ANNE QUINTOS
"Seeing leaves falling from trees makes me lonely," I sighed as my husband and I walked to the 7-11 store near our place for breakfast and morning paper. It's pretty seeing it in paintings but not all that when I'm walking through a row of bald trees and dead leaves on the ground.
Raymond claims I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), meaning that a particular time of year makes a person ...uhmmm... sad. It may be true. However, as an overseas Filipino, my season of loneliness is not autumn or any among the four seasons of other countries. It's just plainly because fall means Christmas season is near.
And Christmas for most overseas Filipinos is a very strong cue word for homesickness. Especially when your family and friends are starting to plan for Christmas meals and get-together. Facebook doesn't make it easier, either. Just this morning I saw a photo of Puto bumbong that my classmate has been eating!
Nonetheless, I'm just a whiner. Even though Taiwan doesn't celebrate Christmas, I'm still a cheap plane ride away from our dear country. There are thousands -- if not millions -- of us who see Christmas as an eternity of torture. To those who are miles and miles away. Those who need to work on holidays. Those who take care of other families than their own. Those who don't have dinner or money to spend. Those who are cold, sick, or helpless. Those who are in prison. Those who are abused. Even those who are going back home jobless and empty-handed.
My dad, who spent seven years in Saudi, told me once that loneliness is the most difficult emotion to handle. It really is. It's like being one of those trees which see something that's part of them wilt and blown away.
The beauty in seasons, though, is that you'll expect it to end at some point. So, to those who are alone and lonely abroad:
- Try your best to cheer yourself -- think positive thoughts!
- Don't compensate your absence with buying too many pasalubongs as this will not be good for you and your family in the long run.
- Communicate and reach out to other people (sulking will only make it worse).
- Always anchor yourself to the real reason why you made your decision to work abroad. Prayers help a lot too!
- Continue to dream and wait for that awesome Christmas when all your family and friends are gathered around one table to eat Christmas ham and Quezo de bola, and share the love and laughter. The best part is, you are there to witness and enjoy it in person.