Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Home for Christmas

Posted on December 20, 2015 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 20, 2015 – 12:00am

SYDNEY — I flew in from Manila five nights ago. I am here at home with my wife Lydia and my son Mio. I will soon see my daughter Ala and my son-in-law John Buencamino who live in the city.

It is great to be back in our little house in Glenwood. It is a typical house in the neighborhood, painted dirty white with dark gray tiles on the roof. It has a modest frontage like the other properties here, framed by two jacaranda trees that we planted nine years ago. Beside ours are similar-looking houses, all built by the same developer.

Inside the house there’s some of our old furniture we brought from the Philippines 10 years ago, mixed with newer stuff we purchased in Sydney when we settled here. Lydia has added interesting touches to accentuate corners, lots of tiny abubot that are pretty to look at.

The dining table is the center of the house. It is where we mostly gather and enjoy each other’s company. I have lots of memories associated with this house. I look at my bedroom and every area in this house and recall having to do a lot of housework — mopping, cleaning, washing plates and pans, moving furniture around, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage. I also remember cold winter days when all I wanted to do was hibernate and lay on my bed all day. Of course that was impossible since I literally had to do housework, errands and even cook my own meals.

Living in Sydney is definitely not like living in Manila where there are people are hired to do such day-to-day things for you. But this is the appeal of living here, or anywhere abroad, I suppose. The rules are simple and clear. Chores must be done and there is not much leeway in terms of how you should react to the situation. You simply must do what needs to be done or things pile up and you will have to work harder later if you do not act on them now. You are totally responsible for the state of your own affairs.

Our house in Glenwood is a happy place that has a constant stream of visitors throughout the year. On Christmas day, more than 70 people come and celebrate with us. You can smell the aroma of good food, and live music playing. Our family and our guests regale everyone with songs and other musical performances. It is something I look forward to every year. In many ways, Sydney has become home because of the Christmases we’ve spent here.

And then there is our home in Quezon City, which will miss us this year. As much as our house in Sydney is home, our house in the Philippines is also every bit our home. We have spent many special moments there. Every piece of furniture, every bit of décor evokes certain feelings in me.

As someone from a middle class background, I never imagined I would own other properties aside from the home I purchased in 1986. It was a 16-year-old house, spacious with big rooms, sala, kitchen and garden. Through the years, we built many memories under its roof.

Many great events have transpired in that house. Many political analyses and plans were drawn up and many life passages happened there — graduations, Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, my wife’s bout with cancer. I also wrote four books in that house.

I ask myself what makes a house a home. There are many ways a house becomes one. Can a family have many houses and call all of them home? Yes.

A home is a place where memories have been built and shared; where family members live and share big chunks of their lives together. A home is where we find comfort, security and love in each other.

I remember our first Christmas in Sydney 10 years ago. We invited five families who had just also moved here. On the afternoon of Dec. 25, they came bringing food, wine and desserts. After dinner, as we gathered in the dark, we started singing Pasko Na Sinta Ko which caused everyone to become emotional about the homes and loved ones we left behind in the Philippines. It was a beautiful shared sadness we all felt. We followed it with Ang Pasko ay Sumapit which got everyone back to feeling the good cheer and joy of the season.

To my readers, wherever you are, whether in the Philippines or parts abroad, this Christmas, may your house be a home for everyone who lives in it.

Make your family or loved ones be the Belen. The casting may not be exactly accurate, but it does not matter. As long as love, hope and acceptance are there, the spirit of Christmas will permeate and reign inside your home.

3 to “Home for Christmas”

  1. Carmen Rosales says:

    Thanks for sharing….You are so humble….Merry Christmas to the whole family…

  2. Isy Ramirez says:

    Mr. Paredes, you bombed right on your first forecast. 2016 is a leap year — 366 days.

  3. Isy Ramirez says:

    Sorry, I posted my comment on the wrong article. It was meant for the next one.

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