Celebrating Christmas in a Foreign Land
In my whole life (so far, all 34 years of it), I have spent just one Christmas in another country. That was in the last quarter of 2004. I was one of the lucky ones chosen by my former employer to send to California, U. S. A. for a three-month on-the-job training in one of the Big 4 auditing firm’s office in San Jose, California.
It was a time for a lot of firsts for me. That was my first (and so far, the last) time to go to another country, my first time to get on 12-hour (going to California) and 17-hour (going back home) flights. It was also the first time I got to work with one of our foreign affiliates, the first time I have team mates who are not Filipinos. In fact, in one of the clients I was assigned to, I had team mates who come from around the world – Chinese, Korean, Indian, German, British, American, etc. (making me refer to our team as the united colors of Benetton LOL). It was also the first time I was assigned to clients that have high profiles (one of those clients just went public during the third quarter of 2004). It was also the first time for me to see first-hand how Sarbanes – Oxley was applied by various listed companies. But most of all, it was my first time to spend Christmas in a foreign land.
Some Pictures from Christmas in the ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
That was five years ago, still I remember a lot of things about that Christmas season and I’d like to share them through this Christmas hub.
The Christmas Decors – Giant-sized Christmas trees, hanging decors, Christmas lights, glitters, Christmas balls, etc., etc., the decors there were pretty much the same as back home but they were much larger (or did I just spent too much time on malls and different establishments? LOL). One thing that struck me is that the atmosphere is the same, the Christmas feeling is also everywhere and Christmas decors are also in abundance when December is already around the corner.
Christmas in the Park – We (my other officemates and I) stayed in San Jose, California. And there’s one place there that I really enjoyed going to during December – the Christmas in the Park. Located near the office where I was assigned, this park is filled with various decors, giant Christmas trees, various Christmas figures, Christmas candles, etc., etc. It even had its own ice skating rink, specifically put up for the Christmas season. This is an annual tradition in downtown San Jose. From what I’ve gathered, they’re celebrating their 30th year of Christmas traditions this Christmas. Wish I could be there to see it, I’m sure the displays will be much, much more beautiful and interesting than they were five years ago.
Visiting and Seeing Las Vegas – One thing that I’m really glad is that I had the chance to visit and see Las Vegas during December and see the sights and sounds of this beautiful place during this wonderful season. No, we did not stay in a hotel (we stayed in my officemate’s cousin’s house) but we got the chance to explore The Strip for one whole day. So, from Bellagio, to Caesar’s Palace, to Paris, to New York, New York, to the MGM, to the Mirage, to MandalayBay and to the Venetian, we saw them all. We got to see the fountain show in front of Bellagio while my friends also saw the pirate show in the Treasure Island. We even got to play in the casinos (slot machines only, I think I won $100 in a slot machine). It was only for a day but it was a really memorable one.
Las VegasClick thumbnail to view full-size
Official Web Site of the Christmas in the Park
- Christmas in the Park Displays
Christmas in the Park is a non-profit that's been doing a Christmas festival in San Jose for over 20 years. It started with a simple display at a funeral home (Lima Family Mortuary) and has grown to over 30 displays and over 200 Christmas trees decor
Celebrating Christmas with the Filipino Community – Northern California is one area where there is a big Filipino community. Some of them work or have worked with our foreign affiliate and they invited us to a Christmas party in one of their homes. There were lots of Filipinos there; I even saw one who was my former schoolmate! There were singing (Filipino – style karaoke), dancing, food, exchange gifts and a simple get-together for everyone. We had a good time, celebrating Christmas with our countrymen.
The Gifts and the Family Celebration – I spent Christmas with my uncle and cousins, whom I haven’t seen since I was very, very young. It was a wonderful time for all of us. There was the giving of gifts (unfortunately, I didn’t know about this so I couldn’t bring any) – which also includes giving of gifts to their pets, delicious food, games, and just general fun during the day. The celebration is pretty much the same back home and it was very, very special because I got to see my relatives after a long, long time.
Christmas is a time for family celebration. But for this one Christmas, we did not let the fact that we’re away from our families spoil our Christmas spirit. If you’re somebody who is spending your Christmas away from your loved ones for the first time or if you’re spending it on your own, why not read this new hub by LRobbins on celebrating Christmas on your own? I’m sure you can find tips here that will make you enjoy your Christmas even though you’re on your own. Happy reading and Merry Christmas to you!