With all the requirements piling up and deadlines to meet, I didn’t notice that Christmas is only a few weeks away.
When I was a kid, we always celebrated Christmas first with our relatives from my mother’s side in San Mateo, Rizal. Then, on the following day or on New Year’s Day, we would go to our relatives from my father’s side in Valenzuela, Bulacan. My siblings and I were always excited with going to both places as we all knew that we’ll be receiving gifts and presents from our relatives and godparents. Clothes and toys were the most common gifts we received aside from money.
Back then, we would start decorating our house with lights, a Christmas tree, and other ornaments every first day of December. A few days before Christmas, our childhood friends and neighbors in the village would go around from house to house singing Christmas carols. Before we end the night, we’ll sing at each parent’s house for additional money to be divided equally among us. We usually spend the money we earned from caroling during Christmas to buy candies and snacks in a nearby sari-sari store. Each one of us was happy as we went home after we finish eating what we bought.
As I grew up, the tradition of going to relatives remained the same as with giving gifts to each one of us. But this time, I prefer to receive gifts in the form of money rather than clothes or toys as I prefer buying something for my own use. We still help our parents in decorating the Christmas tree.
As I continue to grow older, attending Christmas parties, helping in the preparation of Noche Buena, and attending dawn masses have become the new activities that I do. The tradition of gift giving and exchanging gifts are still the same but as elders are no longer there, sometimes we tend to celebrate Christmas abroad, wanting to see how other people celebrate Christmas and, overall, have a different feel with Christmas. Possibly, we also want to celebrate a white Christmas with my father’s siblings in Canada who we have not seen for quite some time.
Most of us start to prepare for Christmas as early as September, or what we call the beginning of the “ber” months. Filipinos have the longest celebration of Christmas in the world. Christmas is usually the time of the year where family, relatives, and friends gather not only to celebrate but to greet and update everybody on their everyday lives, particularly those who have not been in touch for a year or so.
Celebrating Christmas doesn’t change much, the tradition is always there. What changes is how we want to celebrate it. Our preferences change as we grow older. The way we celebrate it then will be continued or preferred by the future generations or by our children as we start to have our own family.