Family Christmas traditions abound in Filipino families. Being a religious country, we grew up with so many of them and these have been passed on from generations before. More often than not, health is sacrificed because of all the stresses that the holiday brings. There is that pressure to always keep the traditions, so we spread ourselves thin in our finances, health, and energies. With the Covid-19 pandemic, our perspectives have changed. We were forced to simplify things and for me, that means breaking traditions that led to the least stressful Christmas ever!
How We Got to Breaking Traditions This Christmas
It was my desire for the kids to grow up with unique memories of the holidays. And these usually involved the family and lots of pictures. After all, when everything is said and done, it’s the photos that remain.
But then, Covid-19 happened and is still happening. Everyone is forced to alter Christmas celebrations. Physical events have been canceled. Even gifts were reduced (giving and receiving) because most of us are observing austerity measures due to the pandemic.
On this note, we just found ourselves breaking traditions. And I am happy we did because that was the most enjoyable Christmas ever.
Experiencing a Stress-Free Christmas
While the virus was wreaking havoc around the world, I got busy and productive at home. There’s homecooking, gardening, and writing. All these kept me busy and sane in the light of the uncertainty and anxiety brought about by the pandemic.
Those months of productivity have reaped rewards because I became swamped with work. Up to Christmas week, there are articles and designs to finish. And that left me no time to prepare whatever holiday niceties. No time to cook either. Plus, there is no last-minute shopping so I didn’t have to fight the crowds in the mall.
A gas station had a 50% off their fuel but we didn’t go. The time wasted on traffic and waiting in line was not worth the savings.
Though we miss traveling and also meeting with friends, all these can really be exhausting for me. After all the rounds of Christmas parties and reunions, there is the year-end getaway that our family embarks on. While the New Year vacation is enjoyable, I feel so tired afterward that I feel like taking another vacation.
But work? Writing? I enjoy work immensely because I can complete these tasks in the comfort of my room. The solitude was really calming and rejuvenating.
The Family Traditions We Kept
We didn’t really break all traditions. Since Christmas eve is my father’s birthday, we went to their house for lunch. I just ordered the cake and a rack of ribs for takeout. My mother prepared salad, rice, and some grilled pork. Meanwhile, my cousins prepared spaghetti and lengua.
Everything looked so simple compared to our past Christmas lunches. And we were fine and happy.
When we went back home for dinnertime, we had chicken ham and leftovers for dinner. At around 9:30 pm, my brother-in-law and his little family dropped by and we had wine and cake. There was no Noche Buena feast! And everyone was totally okay.
Papa read a Christmas-themed story with a moral lesson to the girls, a tradition we kept for years now. Then they got to open the two gifts we prepared for them. These are theirs to share.
Simplicity is Beauty
All the celebrations have been reduced and the pageantry related to Christmas has been simplified greatly. But the simplicity that replaced that is so beautiful.
It made us reconnect with our immediate family members–the people most important to us. We realized that we didn’t need so many things that we associated with Christmas. And most of all, it reminded us that Jesus Christ is the center and the reason for the celebration–nothing else.
It had to take Covid-19 for many of us to realize that. But for me, this had been the happiest, simplest, least stressful, yet most fulfilling Christmas ever. Thank you, Jesus.