Whoever is in charge of Jollibee’s publicity is having a banner year. First, there was the trio of Valentine’s Day commercials that went viral. “Vow,” “Crush,” and “Date” each took all of three minutes to bring everyone who saw them to tears (and to the nearest Jollibee branch to order a burger or some Chickenjoy thighs), yours truly included.
For the holidays, the fast food giant’s advertising people came up with yet another #Kwentong Jollibee (“Jollibee Story”). Okay, it’s not quite on the same level as the Valentine’s edition (to be fair, that set the bar really high), but it still resonates with truth.
In it, a mother writes her only son a letter from what looks like Dubai. Interspersed with her words are scenes of her and her husband carrying on with life as migrant workers in a foreign land. It appears that for quite some time, the couple have been dispatching a balikbayan box filled with presents for their son; it’s supposed to make up for them being unable to come home for Christmas year after year.
True to form, the commercial ends on a happy note, with the family finally reuniting during one holiday season (and in Jollibee at that). If only that could be the case for majority of OFW families this Christmas.
This time of year is meant for reconnecting with all those dear to us, specifically our families, so it can be particularly lonely for whom this isn’t exactly possible. For many OFW’s, the state of their finances, not to mention their migrant status, simply prevents them from celebrating the holiday with their parents, spouses, and/or children in person.
If you happen to be in that group, here are a few things you can do to make the doldrums a little more bearable this season:
If old traditions make you feel sad, make some new ones.
When you’re missing your family so much, attending a kababayan’s Christmas party at their family home might make you feel even more miserable, and that’s okay. What you can do is to opt for something completely different, such as go on a day trip elsewhere by yourself or even just stay home, rest, and/or binge on Netflix.
The same goes for holiday preparations like shopping for presents or cooking up a feast. If they don’t thrill you at all or even stress you out further, you can try delegating them to others (e.g., arrange for food delivery or shop for presents online) or even eschew them entirely if you can. It’s your Christmas, and you can spend it as you see fit.
Limit your alcohol intake.
You might be tempted to drown your sorrows in mugs and mugs of beer, but you’re better off putting that bottle down.
Alcohol is a depressant, so it might make you feel even worse after the initial buzz. Furthermore, you could wake up with one heck of a hangover if you get too carried away.
Anticipate how lonely you might get, and plan how to deal with it.
Fortunately, Australia is only two hours ahead of the Philippines, so it would be quite doable to schedule Skype video calls with your loved ones so you can be included in their holiday celebrations. If you feel like you’ll be needing more moral support than usual during the holidays, arrange things with your family so that you can all greet each other face to face at the appointed time.
Alternatively, if that’s somehow not possible, try reconnecting with any new friends you’ve made abroad during the holidays. If you’re in the mood for it, try organizing your own little Christmas party, lunch, or dinner, and have people over to make you feel less alone.
Take care of yourself.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record here, self-care is very important. It doesn’t have to require a huge indulgence too, so long as it makes you feel safe and soothed. Bubble baths are a great example of a simple yet effective move, as is eating delicious and nutritious food, taking plenty of naps, and even giving yourself a moment to take a deep breath whenever the need arises.
Volunteer for something worthwhile.
Doing something good for another person is not only a powerful antidote to loneliness, it can also boost your feelings of self-worth and usefulness. Giving your time and effort in the aid of the less fortunate can take you out of your head for a while, provide you with some perspective, and also increase your feelings of connectedness to other people.
Ideally, Christmas is meant to be a happy time, but it’s perfectly natural to feel otherwise, especially when home and all the joyous memories that come with it seem so far away. When the sadness hits, acknowledge and accept it, but don’t feel bad or abnormal about feeling that way. You are not alone.