Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Give Love on Christmas Day: Our New Christmas Tradition

Yanthy ready to open book number 25
on Christmas Day.
Our family schedule has been very hectic in the past months, not because of the traditional Christmas practices, but because our adventure with God is nearing its climax.  (You can read more of our latest adventure here.) We could very much relate to the Holy Family.  We weren’t sure until around a few weeks before Christmas where to celebrate the “holy days.”  We had a series of move-outs and move-ins, which were just a few weeks apart.  We rejoiced in these inconveniences still; for we recognized that all these had to happen before God’s promise to our family is fulfilled.  Now, we look forward with joyful anticipation for our next move-out (from our remaining condo unit) and move-in (to our townhouse).  We’re praying that these would happen soon if they are according to God’s plan and timetable.

So, on the day before Christmas, we prepared our simple version of a Birthday Feast for the Birthday Boy, Jesus.  We went to Mass on Christmas Eve.  Yanthy (our eldest son) opened book number 24 in our Christmas countdown and read the prayer for Christmas.  We lighted the candle on Jesus' Birthday cake, sang Him a Birthday Song and Yanthy blew on the candle.  We feasted on the food that we prepared and opened our gifts to each other.
Jesus' Birthday Cake
My parents with their grandsons.
The following day, after eating some more of what was left from our Noche Buena and resting a bit, we went out of the house excited to begin a new Christmas tradition for our family.  We have prepared some brown bags which we stuffed with some goodies for the street kids that we will see that day on the road.  This was inspired by our common experience whenever we travel and our car is approached by beggars in the streets.  I thought that instead of giving them coins when they go to our car on Christmas day, I suggested to my husband that we prepare brown bags for them. 


"Loot bags" from Jesus' Birthday Party.
My husband and eldest son liked the idea and so we prepared and packed our brown bags.  We decided to put food that won’t easily spoil so it’s up to the kid if he/she will eat it right away or not.  We packed a juice drink, cookies and some sweets.  We also put a stampita or a picture of Jesus/Holy Family inside the brown bag to remind these kids that these are from God and that it’s Jesus’ Birthday.  I told them that since we are preparing a Birthday Feast for Jesus, might as well prepare “loot bags” for kids who are close to His Heart, the poor kids on the streets.  I told our eldest son that it’s like showing love to Jesus and being kind to the Boy Jesus Himself when we do these acts of kindness to the street kids who most of the time go hungry.  Our eldest son must have been so inspired that when a family friend gave him money as his gift (or aguinaldo), he said that he will give his money to the street kids who will knock on our window.  That made me one very happy and proud mom.  At four years old, he was generous enough to empty his pocket (literally) for the poor.  I hope and pray he would not lose that virtue of generosity and self-sacrifice until he grows older.

We drove along Katipunan towards White Plains and Green Meadows area and saw some beggars/street kids on the road.  At first I thought, we would not find street kids easily.  I was surprised when as we started giving away to the first few street kids that we saw, more street kids rushed to our car window and begged for bags of goodies.  The brown bags we packed were wiped out in minutes.  I thought deep inside that we should prepare more brown bags next Christmas so we could bless more street kids.

Posing in front of Meralco theater.
As we drove towards the Christmas attractions we planned to see last night, I prayed that somehow, in our own simple way, we have brought the love of God, the loving and holy presence of Jesus to these poor kids.  I also felt blessed that my family has a home and that we are complete as we celebrated Christmas.  I praise and thanked God that we had more than enough to partake with our extended family members and some more to share with the poor around us.  I praised and thanked God for the grace to commune with Him and encounter His holy and loving presence amid our busy schedules.  Most of all, I praised and thanked Him for being my Savior, who humbled Himself just to save me and show His love for me.

My boys enjoying the carousel ride at Eastwood City, Libis.
Our Christmas celebration this year isn’t spectacular if one will evaluate it based on worldly standards but I’m content and joyful with how we celebrated Christmas this year.  It was indeed one meaningful and blessed Christmas, graced by the awesome and powerful presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Let me end by sharing part of the homily given by a priest in one of the Advent Masses we attended.  He said, “It doesn’t matter much where you spend Christmas, as long as Christ is in your heart on Christmas day.”  I heard those words when we were still uncertain where to spend Christmas.  It was enough to chase away my anxiety over where to spend Christmas with my family and how to make our house look nice with Christmas decors.  You see, Christmas is one of my favorite times every year and I look forward to doing my favorite Christmas traditions like shopping and wrapping gifts, attending Simbang Gabi, decorating our house, going to Mass with the family, etc.  This year, God allowed me and my family to experience a different kind of Christmas.  He allowed me and my family to enter into the experience of the Holy Family even as early as before the Advent Season.  Thus, as we watched the Panunuluyan (a dramatization of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn while in Bethlehem) once more at the Christmas Eve Mass we attended near my parents’ house, I was reminded that we are still blessed even when we experience inconveniences and disappointments like Mary and Joseph when we live our lives according to the Will of God.  There is still reason for us to rejoice and be at peace in the thick of our concerns and problems because God is with us.  That is Christmas.  God chose to be with us and bring us His love even while we are sinners, dirty and unworthy.  And His unconditional love melts our hearts, transforms us and moves us to change our ways.
Friends, I hope and pray that as you and your family had your very own unique, blessed and meaningful Christmas experience as well. I also pray that this would be your experience every day and not just at Christmas time.

The giant Nativity scene at Meralco Paskuhan Village, Ortigas.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given... And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

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