What to do for Christmas: Family first—before the laptop
Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time to love”—the song plays in my head as I fondly remember my childhood days.
Christmas, for me, was all about receiving gifts from Santa Claus and being a nice child so he would fill my stockings with sweet treats and other presents. What I didn’t realize was that this annual and most-awaited event provides opportunities for family reunions, a chance to get closer to God by helping needy people.
Instead of waiting for that man in the big red suit to come rappelling down our invisible chimneys, we ourselves can give happiness to others.
Much can actually be done in a given span of time, as the tweens and teens in this article clearly show. They have only one goal this season: to spend Christmas in the most meaningful way possible.
Ariana Dee, 16
We do it pretty simply: We have Mass at 9 p.m., have Noche Buena dinner then we wait until 12 midnight to open the gifts! The morning of Christmas, we usually spend with relatives.
Sarah Phoebe Lim, 18
I really don’t have an accurate plan for this Christmas, but as we prepare ourselves for the season of joy and thanksgiving, our organization has prepared a project called “12 days of Christmas,” which aims to help a foundation and, for this year, we have chosen Operation Smile. For 12 days, students are tasked to bring old newspapers, which the organization will sell, and the money we get we will donate to Operation Smile.
Through that project, we hope to touch the lives of others, but most especially, of the batchmates we inspire to give in return for the blessings they have received.
Simoun Bayudan, 15
Every Christmas has been special and really different—there’s always a new theme with the family during this season. I still remember the year we went on a beach vacation on Christmas Eve, or the year we went to the province and enjoyed a very heartwarming Christmas day with all our province’s traditions. I guess that each Christmas we celebrate means something really special not only for the family, but also for God. After all, each day we live is for Him, especially during Christmas day.
So for this year, I really wish that my family would plan something service-oriented for Christmas, and not just a Christmas of opening gifts and all. Just recently, I joined a mangrove-planting event sponsored by my school, and I really found it fun.
I never actually thought that being in that kind of service brings you joy in helping a cause, and joy in yourself. Being part of that tree-planting activity made me feel more connected with the outside and real world—it was just a great experience. With that said, I hope that my family doesn’t just “plant” a tree in the living room for this year. I just hope that this year, we get to plant a lot of trees in the ground.
Like every Christmas season, I plan to spend it as meaningfully as possible—that is, through participating in various social-action activities, attending Church activities. This I do in the spirit of Christmas and love, which is what Christmas is about for me.
Love of God and family: Christmas has always been a family favorite. It’s that special time of year we spend extra time together. And so, it has been a family tradition that in the spirit of Christmas we attend the early morning Mass called “Misa de Gallo.” Essentially, the Simbang Gabi is a novena.
More than the yummy puto bumbong and bibingka which is traditionally sold after the dawn Masses, this practice actually helps us prepare for the birth of Christ; His coming has been and continues to be a reminder that there is hope even during the bleakest of times, and that we are to be saved.
Loving others: May it be through the social-action activities in school or something as simple as forgiving those who have hurt us, it’s an act rooted in love. These things may be simple, possibly trivial. However, things need not be extravagant and complicated to show people and make them feel that they are loved. For me, it is important to share love with everyone in any way we can this Christmas.
After all, at least to me, Christmas has and always will be about the giving of love to others. Christmas is not only a day for giving and receiving gifts, the things that we have always wanted. Rather, it is a reminder to us that there is so much more than these material presents.
It constantly reminds us of that one thing that is deeply rooted in love, His love for each of us.
Micah Jao, 17
Usually, we gather the things we realize we don’t really need like toys and clothes, and we give them to the children on the streets.
I don’t plan to go out of town for the holidays, but instead I plan to stay in Manila. I want to take this as an opportunity to bond with family, strengthen friendships and make new ones.
This Christmas, I’m excited to spend more time with my family. Even if that sounds like a cliché for a lot of people, it’s an important time of year for me, since I don’t get to see my parents much throughout the year. I like doing the simple things with them, like eating out and just spending my time with them. That’s what I’m really excited about this Christmas!
Micah David Lim
This Christmas, I plan to just stay at home and spend quality time with the family. We’ll be meeting with other relatives we haven’t seen in a while.
Kobi Go, 14
I would like to give my family and friends Christmas gifts. I find it a good thing because it makes them happy. But more important, I want to spend time with my family and friends because for most, time is more valuable than material things. I would want to give them the best not just for Christmas, but throughout the year, too.
Russ Earl Malangen, 16
Christmas hasn’t been and never really was about gifts for me. It’s always been about spending quality time with my family to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, to get in the Christmas spirit, I hope to be able to make it a point to remember the reason for the season by extending as much help as I can to the less fortunate.
The most rewarding feeling I get every Christmas is the pleasure of giving. Every Christmas, my family and I donate clothes and toys to the less fortunate. We would also bring canned goods, candies and fruits in our car to share with street children. (Maybe not a good idea, but who could resist their big smiles?)
Being able to spend more time with my family and knowing that we did something to give them a happier Christmas simply fills my heart with joy. These small acts make my Christmas even more meaningful. This season is the perfect time to give back and show thanksgiving for the countless blessings showered upon us.
Melissa Ann Yulo, 16
This Christmas, I plan to spend quality time with my family by traveling to Korea together. We plan to enjoy a beautiful white Christmas there for the first time.
I’ve actually been doing this for the past three years now. I don’t ask for presents from my family and friends, even if they try to persuade me to give in. I’m not actually planning to visit orphanages because I don’t think that I’ll have the time to do so. Despite that, I plan to donate food to the people who knock on our cars on the street, carolers and simply those who need our compassion this time of year.
In the past few months, I haven’t been given the chance to completely be with my family yet. I mean, with all the schoolwork and everything, I have let my family come second. Which is why I decided to spend my Christmas wisely, and that is to spend every second of my Christmas with my family.
Jean Caluban, 16
I’ll be in China on a study tour this Christmas break so, sadly, I’ll be away from my family, but hopefully I can still enjoy my Christmas and New Year’s. This Christmas, I want to make the most of it even if I’ll be away; hopefully I also get to fix problems before the New Year because I want to end this year right. I just want everyone to enjoy the holidays and make the most of their time with their loved ones as well.
Andrea Ong, 15
This Christmas, my family and I have scheduled a 13-day trip to Turkey and Dubai, a total break and stress reliever from the hectic school life! And I plan to celebrate Christmas through reunions with my cousins, remembering the good events of the year and the happy times we spent together. My birthday also falls within the Christmas season, so I plan to celebrate it with my closest friends and family.
Michael James C. Gaborni, 15
This Christmas, I want to attend the Simbang Gabi and be able to complete the nine-day series of Masses. I also like to join our parish choir going around our neighborhood, spreading the spirit of Christmas by singing Christmas carols. I want to reach out to the needy by participating in charity programs. I’m interested, too, in helping in our house to prepare food for this Christmas, and lastly I want to bond with my family by going out with them if possible.
Meryl Su, 19
This Christmas, I’d like to spend a lot more quality time with my family and friends, making memories. I want to enjoy my break by reading books, going out or sleeping. But I also want to be able to give back, so I plan to join my UP Biology friends in holding a Christmas party for the kids of Gentle Hands Orphanage. I hope I’ll have more opportunities to help more people and see friends I haven’t seen in ages. My organization, UPCSA, plans to have a charity raffle to benefit the kids of nonprofit organization Kythe, which helps terminally ill children.
Rafael Butiong, 15
With all the parties, food, gift-giving and (most importantly) the break from school, Christmas is truly my favorite time of the year. However, I always try to set aside these things and do good for others. This Christmas, my family plans to participate in the feeding program of our parish. We will also give little gifts to the children and give donations to the parish. This Christmas, I will try to be a better person and be more patient and kind.
Although it will never be enough for what He has done for us, this would be my gift to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the reason we have this special celebration.
Mio Tuason, 16
Well, my family and I plan on visiting our sponsored special children in Chosen Children Village.
Megan Sy, 16
I’d really like to give away my old toys. It’s not just because I feel the need to clear some space. I think it’s a good way to help out, and give a part of yourself to other people.
Weaverly Colleen Lee, 16
During Christmas, my family would usually prepare gift packs to distribute to the poor. Also, my uncle, brother and I would buy food like pan de sal or donuts and walk around the streets and give them to the kids we pass by.
Nadine Kwan Laurel, 16
These past few weeks have been really crazy and stressful. With the Christmas vacation drawing near, our teachers seem to think that it’s a good idea to pile up all our workload. Deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines have come to slap us in the face, and after so many sleepless nights, the time to relax and be stress-free has finally come. ’Tis the season to be jolly!
This year, my family plans to spend Christmas abroad—to take the opportunity to spend time together and just be with each other. After all, Christmas is the time for loving, and who better to spend it with than with one’s family to just enjoy each other’s company.
Christie Lim, 18
Since my life has recently revolved around college work, I plan to spend this Christmas bonding with the family and going on reunions with high school friends. I am also considering donating my hair to Locks of Love or an organization of the like.
Lia Kristen Sy Ong
One good thing I want to do this Christmas is spend more time with my family and loved ones, rather than wasting my time on the computer. I realized that I should value my relationships with my family, and Christmas is when we get to spend quality time with each other.