Clarace J. Galeno

Christmas in Another Home

By Clarace J. Galeno

The author works at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a nurse. She grew up in the parish of Holy Family, in Bacolod City which was run by the Columbans before. Clarace used to be an active member of the Legion of Mary while she was still here. Here she shares her longing for Christmas at home and how she tries to celebrate it in a country that doesn’t believe in it.

Clarace with colleagues as they try to celebrate Christmas in their workplace.

One of the sure ways to uplift a Filipino spirit is to have a thought of Christmas. It is always a positive memory that we all hold dear in our hearts. Mine is no difference, having grown up in a close family that keeps Christmas tradition faithfully. It always brings a smile recalling those 9 morning masses preceding Christmas -It brings a smile to see the Christmas lights in each home, the decors, gifts, and lovely Christmas carols, and the spirit of faith, hope and love that it all evokes. Those were such happy memories to start. Yet, changes do occur.

In 2007, I started working as a nurse at the Emergency Department in one of the hospitals in Riyadh. December is wintertime in the city but I never expected it to be that cold. I thought Riyadh is a desert country and so it would always be scorching with dry heat.

Winter then was the busiest time in Pediatric Emergency. Most children who were brought in were suffering from various respiratory problems. It was Christmas Eve but I had to work for a night shift duty. Of course, it is not always a happy disposition to work during such time when every Christian would want to spend it with their love ones together instead. The call of duty demanded me to be in the hospital and to do the job. It was really a chaotic night with all those different cases to attend to that I had forgotten that it was already midnight. It was Christmas!