Christmas is the most awaited holiday in our household. This year is our family’s 9th white Christmas celebration and just like the past 8 years, I always try my best to make our celebration a memorable one. As most Filipino would agree “walang tatalo sa Pasko sa Pinas” (nothing can beat the way Filipinos celebrate Christmas in the Philippines), that is why as much as I can, I try to make it a point that each year our family celebrates Christmas in the most meaningful way we can.
In our first two years in Canada, I got my Christmas socks for my kids, then my husband and I would put our Christmas gifts on their socks on Christmas Eve. There was a year that we didn’t put names in the gifts, come Christmas morning my husband or I will give clues what’s inside the box and the kid who thinks the item is for him/her claims the gift. On a different year, we also numbered the gifts and gave a Christmas card to our children and indicated which gift they should get under the Christmas tree. In the past years we let our 3 kids make their Christmas wish list, but last Christmas, I intentionally did not get what they listed, instead, we got them gifts which we think will still make them happy even if its not on their wish list… and yes, they loved the gifts that we chose for them, I can still recall the excitement in their faces when they opened their gifts.
Christmas celebration for me is a time with family, I want to ensure that my children will keep looking forward to celebrate this occasion with me and their dad even they are all grown ups. And I want them to have happy memories of how our family celebrates Christmas even when we don’t celebrate it with our family in the Philippines. Another reason why I always try to be creative in the way we give our Christmas gifts to our children is because I want them to learn the real meaning of giving and receiving gifts, cliché it may seem but yes I want them to learn that in receiving gifts, “it is the thought that really counts” while in giving gifts, the giver should make the receiver feel that you were thinking of him/her when you chose that particular gift for him/her. I want my kids to learn to appreciate and be thankful of what they have or what is given to them regardless if what they received is pricey or not or whether it’s what they wish for or not. I remember when I was young and my cousins and I do our annual Christmas gift exchange, we didn’t have a “wish list,” but at the end of the night, we are all happy with what we received. We are happy with what we all got because we know each other and we know who loves what and we took time to observe and listen to each other whenever we are together, hence, we know what to get for each other.
I witnessed kids (and not so kids anymore) who are all about what they want to receive to the point that if they don’t get what they expect to receive they fail to show their appreciation. They don’t get to experience the fun and joy of doing gift games and gift exchange cause they are more concern of the “price tag” of the gift and what’s in their wish list. I want to teach my kids that giving gifts is not a question of “how much?” it should be “what or why?” What did it take for the giver to be able to get you a gift and why did she or he thought of giving it to you. We never know, there could be stories behind every gift we receive.
This year, I decided to start a “family tradition,” something that I want our family to do yearly even until our kids are all grown ups. Starting this Christmas, we are giving each other a “Christmas ornament” that symbolizes an event, an activity or anything that happened to the person you are giving the ornament to on that particular year. In other words, there should be a story behind the ornament that you’ll give. I actually stole the idea of giving Christmas ornament from my colleague at work as she and her husband has been doing this kind of gift giving for a number of years now.
Since we are a family of 5, we decided that we’d pick names of who gives whom. Yes, my husband and I helped our kids in getting the ornament that they are giving to their secret Santa but we let them decide what ornament to choose and we let them wrap their own gift. Believe it or not even if my husband and I had a hint on who picked our name, we were still both teary-eyed when we got our ornament and found out why it was chosen for us. You sometimes can’t believe how your children notice even the small things happening in your family.
We decided to do our “ornament gift-giving activity” on December 22nd so our new ornaments will be hanged in our tree in time for Christmas (I actually want to do it on Christmas eve but the kids insisted to do it on the night of their last day in school for Winter Break.) After eating supper, we gathered around our Christmas tree and we took turns on describing the ornament we got and in explaining why we got that ornament for our secret Santa.
We were all very happy after we hanged the ornament that we received to our tree. We are all excited for the coming years and how we are going to fill up our tree with ornaments that has “meaning” to each of us. Each year, I always ask my 3 children if we are going for a blue or red theme Christmas ornaments, but starting this year, I won’t have to ask them again because our yearly Christmas theme is “our family.”
How about you, what family traditions do you do during holiday season?