On the day we set up the Christmas tree, my 4-year-old son excitedly ran upstairs to wake up his sister and whispered into her ears: “It’s Christmas!”
It took a while for him to understand that Christmas Day was still over a month away. For a moment, his face clouded over, but just as quickly lit up as he decided that 45 days of Christmas preparations were a welcome bonus to that one special day.
His next obsession was putting the star atop the tree and, lately, passing by a neighbor’s house every chance he could to laugh gleefully at their inflatable Santa Claus display.
Recently, he went to his ate’s school where there is a life-size Belen with the baby Jesus still missing from the cradle (they will put him there during the Christmas Mass).
That has become his new hobby—lying under the tree, pretending to be the baby Jesus. Santi likes the fact that, like him, Jesus is a baby, too. I suppose, at this age, he can relate more to the little child in the manger than the man on the cross.
Admittedly, his concept of Christmas is still vague and centered on gifts, Santa Claus and the baby Jesus, not yet understanding the importance of Jesus’ birth.
As the years go by, and he gets older, I hope he will accept the values I’m imparting to him and his siblings, and see the true meaning of Christmas.
Meanwhile, Juanmi and Adriana, both being older, are more aware of the significance of Christ’s birth, the importance of giving rather than receiving, as they participate in the opportunities that we present for them to give back.
I try to keep this practice going all year round, make it a part of their lifestyle, not simply a token gesture done once a year.
Juanmi and Adriana are old enough to enjoy the festivities. But they know that family time is priority and that there is a cut-off date for get-togethers with friends.
Christmas has a way of bringing out the best in everyone. Parenting methods may differ, but at Christmas we have the same hope for our children.
Here’s how some of our favorite mothers celebrate and present Christmas to their children. Does it sound like your own?
“As much as we can, we try to make Christmas about ‘the joy of giving.’ We ask them to think of ideas on how to show their appreciation to the people who care for them.
“We let them organize parties (with cousins and household help) to get them involved in the hustle and bustle. It’s their way of giving joy to others.
“Since we have a 3-year-old boy, Santa is still very present in our home. The children look forward to the morning of the 25th when they check their Christmas stockings for what Santa has in store for them. It’s usually just something small, something that can fit in their stocking. The rest of the day is spent enjoying their presents with the family.”
“As parents, my husband and I present Christmas as a combination of the birth of Jesus, and a time for family and thanksgiving. Since we have young children, Santa is much a part of the celebrations and gift giving.
“My six-year-old son, who was ecstatic over meeting Santa at his workshop during the Stork Studio Santa experience, still asked me before going to bed, ‘How many years ago was Jesus born?’ Questions like this tell me that despite the glitz of gifts, my sons’ hearts and priorities are still in the right place and set in Christ.
“Christmas is also extra special for our children because it’s the one time of the year when our family is complete as my two sisters (their aunts) are home from New York for the holidays, and they see and feel the joy of having our family all together.”
“Days of just sleeping in, karaoke in our pajamas, watching reruns of TV shows, and the kids pretending to love the gifts from Santa (I don’t know who is fooling who).
“It’s that warm fuzzy feeling of a huge family bear hug. Christmas is the day that holds all time together. We emphasize to our children that it is an occasion to share our blessings, not just for one day but everyday!
“The joy of Christmas should be forever! It is the time to remember the love and happiness in the simplest things—laughter, time with family and together giving thanks to the Lord.”
“Christmas is very much about giving and sharing, strengthening the birth of Jesus Christ. This is what we emphasize to the kids, but we also make sure they realize the importance of these throughout the rest of the year as well.”
“My husband JV and I hear midnight Mass with our family on the 24th and partake in the Noche Buena before opening presents.
“Before Christmas, though, Julio likes accompanying the mayor of San Juan, his Lola Guia, in giving out presents to children. We try to instill in him to be thankful every day because he has been blessed in many ways.
“As a family, we have the opportunity to serve and give back with our time and resources. Through our example, we hope he learns to be kind and compassionate. And in time, even when the magic of Santa fades away, to always love his neighbor which is the true essence of Christmas.”
“Christmas is a time for family—when relatives from around the world come home, and we are able to reconnect and bond with those we don’t get to see often.
“Although the kids believe in Santa, it is very much a realistic Christmas for us. We make sure that they see and know that there are others that are less fortunate. The children pick toys and books from their rooms to donate, go shopping with me for things we can give to schools and hospitals and, when they are older, will accompany us on relief missions.
“The message we try to send our children is to be grateful for what they have, and to share what they can with those who have less. But most importantly, that this lesson should be year round and not just once a year.”
“A child’s Christmas will not be complete without gifts and Santa. I keep this tradition alive in our family. However, beyond the festivities and traditions, Christmas is about one thing—God loved us so much, that He shared His beloved Son with us.
“It is through sharing that our family prepares for Jesus’ coming. This message of love and sharing is what I impart to my daughter and family.”
“Christmas is the happiest time of the year, and we try our best to make it so, even as our kids are getting older. And like every child, they can’t wait for Christmas morning to open their presents.
“But more importantly they can’t wait to see their brother or sister react to the present they got or made for them.
“Since they were small, we always instilled in them that the true spirit of Christmas is sharing, and we find more joy in giving then receiving. And true enough, each year they scrape their allowance to buy something for everyone in the house, they organize the Christmas party for our staff and it is a highlight of the season.
“They collect goods and books to distribute to schools and day care centers, and because they have done this all their lives, Christmas is not complete without it.”
“I always like to be straightforward with how I explain things to my children. I have decided to tell them the truth about Santa right from the start, hoping that knowing early on will keep them from getting hurt.
“I want my kids to learn more about Jesus, and how important his role is in the celebration of Christmas—as the Son of God who came to earth to show us the meaning of great and unconditional love.
“I want them to grow deeper in their faith in Jesus and for them to love Him even more. I want them to learn that Christmas means kindness, hope, faith and love.
“Every year, our family focuses on being together, whether just at home or on a vacation, Christmas to us means family.
“This year, because the kids are now eight and six, I want to teach them how to extend love to others and to be able to share a bit of blessing to those in need, with great hopes that they will grow up with compassion toward others and that they will also know how to give with joy in their hearts.”
Kei Tiu Laurel-de Jesus
“We teach our kids that Christmas is about family. It is also a time to be thankful for the blessings they have been given and a time to share those blessings with others.
“As they are still very young, we try to keep the magic of Santa alive in the house by watching Santa Claus movies as a family. This helps in teaching our kids the tradition and it keeps them excited about Christmas!
“We place Christmas sacks with their names under the tree, and on Christmas Eve, Santa fills up the sack with presents.”
Dr. Geraldine “Ging” Zamora
“Growing up, my sister and I knew the highlight of Christmas was the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, and getting together with friends and family, and this is the same tradition I have been trying to impart to my daughter, Nala, now 10 years old.
“While we give gifts to other people (mostly bought throughout the year), I usually buy when I see things that I know friends/family will like and keep it, till an occasion arises. Or, I make an ongoing list so I don’t really cram. In our family there are no expectations for gifts, and we started giving each other presents only in recent years.
“Nala has never been one to ask for material things. The only time she really wanted this very expensive toy, she had to work for it and sold banana bread we helped her bake.
“I distinctly remember one Christmas when she asked me innocently what my Christmas gift to her was—because a friend told her what she asked from her parents—and I said, “Love!” And we burst out laughing, for we both knew that was more than enough.
“I still try to find her cute things that she will treasure for a long time. Last Christmas, my gift to her was a handwritten note with six tick boxes that entitles her to a Jollibee meal anytime she wanted, and it made her ecstatic.
“Right now she is into journals/diaries, cute pens and unicorns. It’s very easy to make her happy with the simple things in life.”
Michelle Go -Tanjangco
“My husband and I make sure that Christmas is not all about gifts, trimmings and parties. We constantly remind them that the reason for Christmas is that a child was born out of God’s immense love for us to be our savior and as such, Jesus is the best gift we will ever receive.
“And the best way to show how grateful we are for this gift is to pay this love forward—not just to the people who are close to us, but more so to the people who need it most.
“We have a jar of popsicle sticks with random acts of kindness written on each one. The kids pick one every morning which they then report during dinnertime.
“We also have Felix, our little elf on the shelf from Santa, who visits us as soon as our tree is up. Felix goes back home to where he belongs with Santa after dropping off their gifts on Christmas Day.”