“For me it is very important to be with people from Colombia. Because they understand my feelings, they understand what it is like not to have family around. Spending Christmas with people from other countries is not the same because they do not understand your food, typical dishes and what they mean. So for me it is important because I don’t want to forget who I am, where I come from or because I am the way I am,” says Viviana, who lives in Australia and planned a traditional Colombian Christmas with a group of friends from her country.
In December 2014 Vivi moved to the other side of the world, and since then she has gone through a search process to find a “family” to spend Christmas away from home. “I have always had to be searching among friends and other families where to spend Christmas and it has always been difficult and painful. Even though I really liked these people, it was difficult. But I decided to change that and look for people with whom I get along well and with whom I feel like family,” she explains.
Three years ago, the search ended when she found a group of Colombian friends to celebrate the date. Now every year they get together to celebrate a typical Colombian Christmas in Australia.
“[Today] I feel reassured to know that I will be with them and we will laugh, eat, be together. That’s enough for me,” she says. And she says she is happy to be able to maintain traditions of her country, like cooking “Natillas” and “Buñuelos” which are typical Colombian Christmas dishes. “I want to enjoy this process of preparing the food, you know? Of that cooperation. And well, let’s make it a beautiful celebration,” she adds.
In this year of pandemic, Vivi also mentions how challenging it is to be so far away and speaks of the hope of returning home next year. “I think the mind plays tricks because since we know we can’t go, it’s more this internal struggle of ‘I could be there’, but because of something external, I can’t make this decision of ‘I’ll go because I can’. This year, for example, my family is getting together and my sister made Christmas T-shirts and I won’t have one. I won’t be in the picture. It’s painful. But I hope that next year I will be able to say ‘I will spend Christmas in Colombia after seven years’. It would be wonderful,” she says.
And she concludes with a reflection on how we can face the festivities when we are away from home: “I think you can always choose how to live these important dates. We can feel bad or live in the best way. It’s about recreating what makes you feel good and what reminds you of that unconditional love that is celebrated on those dates. It’s about recreating that feeling that’s so beautiful that it’s about saying ‘that’s my family’ and all the joy of having them around. It’s hard, but you can enjoy it and find a way to feel as close as possible”.