5 things to be grateful for this Christmas

Noche Buena
Noche Buena

There are only a few hours left before fireworks light up the night sky this Christmas Eve. Some are saying this could turn out to be the brightest and merriest Christmas as we make up for the gloom brought by super typhoon Odette in December last year.

But more than the promise of having a grand Christmas this year, Cebuanos have learned to celebrate this season of love in a more meaningful way.

What transpired in the scariest December evening of our lives last year was more than just a humbling experience. It was not just about the often romanticized “Filipino resiliency” that propelled the locals to find shelter, food, and water for their families amidst the storm but it was also a story of miraculous survival.

And this Christmas won’t be any different as it remains to be another chapter of recovery and rebuilding.

Here, we list down five things to be grateful for this Christmas.

In-person masses (Misa de Gallo and Simbang Gabi)

As the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, a Christmas tradition devotees continue to practice is the nine-day Misa de Gallo (dawn masses) or Simbang Gabi (night masses), in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Some believe that their wishes will come true if they complete the nine-day masses. This year’s Misa de Gallo is special because it is one of the many religious practices Catholics have resumed doing since restrictions due the Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for them to physically attend masses.

For Cebuanos, being able to attend the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi in person is already a cause for celebration after having to deal with the challenges brought by both the pandemic and super typhoon Odette. An added treat is being able to buy their favorite “kakanin” outside the churches after the mass. After all, nothing beats the delicious smell of hot bibingka, puto bumbong or sikwate (hot chocolate) during the holiday season.

Family bonding

One thing is for sure, this Christmas will bring families together, strengthening their bond and creating more memories. Unlike last year, Cebuano households can now celebrate Christmas with water, electricity, and other necessities which were hard to come by after Odette. The lifting of restrictions and ease of travel have also made it easier for families to visit one another.

Get-togethers are what make Christmas meaningful for families that will now be able to safely return to their holiday traditions and spend time catching up over hearty meals without fear of any energy shortage. They can engage in several family-friendly activities, such as watching movies together or baking holiday-themed goodies for the little ones.

13th month pay and Christmas bonus

With parties and gift-giving being held left and right, expenses during the Christmas season can become steep. Thankfully, there’s the 13th month pay and bonuses given by employers that will allow one to get Christmas presents for families, friends and one’s self. It doesn’t have to be grand and expensive, just something that reminds you of the person you’re giving the gift to. The ubiquitous Christmas promos and sales at the malls and other commercial centers can help you get value for your money. Don’t forget to give yourself a treat, too. You deserve it for all the hard work you’ve done the whole year round.

Vacation time

Christmas is a great time to arrange out-of-town trips. How you want to spend your Christmas break is entirely your call. Some like to simply cuddle in their beds, watch a good movie, or read a good book while curled up on their couches. Christmas offers us a new kind of rest. The air may be colder but it brings with it a greater sense of warmth that is only present throughout the holiday season.

It’s time to bring back December as a month of relaxation and healing. Refocusing your energy on the good things in life and making time for your favorite holiday activities during the break can take away the holiday blues.

Noche Buena

It’s not a Filipino Christmas without the best holiday tradition—the Noche Buena. Families like cooking their favorite recipes throughout this festive season. The lechon, the centerpiece of the dinner table, the holiday ham with pineapple glaze, or the Pinoy spaghetti with its traditional sweetened sauce, can all help to bring forth the Christmas spirit of the household.

There is undoubtedly much to be thankful for this Christmas. Whether it is the resumption of holiday traditions or the culinary explorations, every shared activity exudes joy if you let it. Christmas magic begins within each of us, and it is up to us to decide how to share with others the happiness this season brings.


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