Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why Celebrate Christmas Even After #YolandaPH

I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013,
hosted by
"Tuloy ba ang Pasko?" (Will Christmas push through?)
With the extent of devastation that Super Typhoon Yolanda did to our country, it's not surprising that you'd hear this question asked in the streets as Christmas Day comes near. People probably ask this question as their way of trying to cope with the trauma and loss brought about by this recent calamity.
There are Filipinos who are thinking of canceling their office Christmas parties so that they can donate their budget to the victims of the calamity. I think that this is a good idea and that if employees agree to do things this way, that would really be highly appreciated by our countrymen who need much help to recover from the rubbles left by Yolanda. I would however suggest that instead of cancelling all Christmas celebrations in the office or anywhere else, simple Christmas celebrations be done in place of the usual festive ones.
Here are three main reasons why I still strongly recommend to my fellow Filipinos that we celebrate Christmas this year.
1. Celebrating Christmas will remind us that God is with us - in good times and in bad. He is Emmanuel, right?
2. Meditating on the Nativity Scene would remind us that Jesus, the Son of God, chose to be born poor... with nothing to boast. He was stripped of His glory and entered the world as a vulnerable infant. Mary and Joseph didn't even know where to go to spend the night in Bethlehem on the night that He was to be born. If they were not able to find a stable, they too, like the many victims of the recent typhoon would not have a roof over their heads. These similarities, among others, can remind us Filipinos that God is close to the broken-hearted and that the poor has a special place in God's heart. That God understands what they are going through because He also experienced being poor.
3. Jesus' coming gives hope. The Jews hoped and waited for the coming of the Messiah. And He did come and saved us - Jews and Gentiles alike. Although we know that Jesus will come again at the end of time, He also comes to us every day of our lives. But for us to recognize His coming, we need to expect Him. We need to hope that He will come. We need to look with the eyes of faith. Because when we do that, we would see Jesus come to us in the ordinary and even in the painful events of our lives. That is what I want my fellow Filipinos to have this Christmas. I want all of us to put our hope in our Messiah. To wait for His help and recognize His help and provision through the ordinary blessings that come our way - be it in the form of a bottled water, a relief pack, a sympathetic ear or a warm smile.
So with these in mind, my family and I will celebrate Christmas this year in simple but meaningful ways. Let me enumerate how.
1. Through our simple Christmas Countdown. I believe that countdowns build up anticipation for big events like Christmas. I want to help our kids grow in anticipation for Jesus coming. Anticipating His coming every Christmas Day I think is one way for them to develop this attitude of anticipating an encounter with God not just at Christmas but even every day or every moment of their lives. You may read more about our Christmas Countdown here.

My boys just opened our first Christmas book.
2. With simple and DIY Christmas decorations. My kids are still very young (5 and 2 years old). So, I'm not very eager to buy ornate and breakable Nativity Scenes to decorate our house with. This year, I've decided to make our own Nativity Scene from our old popsicle sticks.
Here's how we did our version which was inspired by this post shared by a friend of mine in Facebook.
- Gather old popsicle sticks.

- Paint them with your preferred color. (You can use your fingers, a brush or a foam.) My boys used a foam to paint the popsicles green. Then, my eldest son and I used our fingers to paint the popsicle sticks which were used to symbolize the Holy family.

- Air-dry the painted popsicle sticks.
- Stick them together using a glue. Air-dry once more.

- Cut a piece of paper to form a star.
- Put glitters on the star-shaped paper. (You can do this by spreading glue thinly on the paper and then scatter silver glitters on it. Or you can simply use a silver glitter glue. This is what we used. We squeezed some glitter glue on the paper and spread it to distribute evenly on the paper.

Our finished art work.

- Glue the star on the roof of the stable. 
Another DIY Christmas décor that my kids and I will do is the Christmas wreath. I plan to use green cartolina for this Christmas art project. We will trace our hands in green paper. Then, my eldest and I will cut the hands traced on the paper. We will use these cut-outs to form the circular wreath. We will glue them in a round piece of board. After that, we will form tubes using 3 purple sheets and 1 pink sheet (cartolina or other kinds of sturdy colored board). I will draw a flame shape on a yellow colored paper, and cut them. Then, we'd glue the flames to each "candle" each Sunday of advent to symbolize that we are lighting one that day.

Our handmade Advent wreath.
3. With a birthday cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day. This is one of our family's Christmas traditions also. Just like in the past years, we would have a simple birthday celebration for the Boy who gave hope, joy and salvation to humankind. Click here to read about my blog post about this last Christmas season.
4. Going to Mass as a family. Participating in the Mass is something that our family loves to do, be it Christmas or an ordinary day in the year. This Christmas, it would be extra special because my husband will be home to celebrate Christmas with us after working abroad for three months. Thus, I'm sure that my eyes would have tears of joy when we go to Mass as a family this Christmas season.
There are many ways to simplify our celebrations so that we can also give to those in need. These four that I have enumerated are just some of them. You may check out this article (10 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Differently) I wrote two years ago for more ideas on how to celebrate Christmas differently but meaningfully.

Feel free to share how you plan to celebrate simply but meaningfully by leaving a comment.
Here's to simple but meaningful Christmas celebrations! Cheers!
Please visit the other blogs who joined this Christmas Blog Link up.
Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Coffee Moments with Sam     The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others
Canadian Catholic Mom         Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling   Keep Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos        Keep Christ in Christmas
Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home         Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats
Training Happy Hearts            10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year
Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy        Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk       Keeping Christ in Christmas
Journey Living: Anno Domini 


  1. Wish you a very Happy Christmas!!May god bless you!!!
    JingleBells Jinglebells

  2. You have excellent points on why to still celebrate Christmas. After traumas, I think we need to keep our traditions to remind us life goes on. And yes, to keep Jesus in the front of our minds.

    God bless, my friend!

    1. Thank you, Kathy! I agree with you that traditions or routines help people overcome painful events or traumas. God bless you, too!

  3. Such good points. I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas! Please know that you all are in our prayers!

  4. Thanks, Maureen! Have a blessed Christmas, too!

  5. Having your children work on the Christmas decorations, as you are doing, is much more meaningful, significant and memorable than any store bought shiny bauble. You are sharing your faith, and living your Faith. You are a blessing to your children and to those around you.

    The smile on your son's (beautiful) face shows the love of Christ. Pure joy.
    Celebrating Christmas reminds us of the Hope that is to come.

    Have a very blessed Advent and a joy filled Christmas!

    1. Thank you! I thank God for using my kids daily to remind me of His love.

  6. Tere, I love your artowrk. That's doable and adorable. I agree with you that we still need to celebrate Christmas --maybe simply but still recognize that Our Lord was born. I'll email you.

    1. Thanks, Belle! Would love to see you again after a long time.

  7. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts on why we should celebrate Christmas. They are beautiful reminders of why we truly celebrate this wonderful season. Cute Christmas ornament. It would be wonderful to do with my 1st grade CCD class.

    1. Thanks, Monique! I'm sure you'll enjoy making it with the entire class.

  8. I love the nativity scene popsicle art! So cute.

  9. Teresa,

    Christmas can seem to be a time for those who have everything. Everyone seems to be partying and celebrating with light hearts. There doesn't seem to be much place for those who are suffering. However, I think Christmas is a season for those who need hope and love. I love your reflection. Thank you!

    I also love your nativity scene. So simple but effective. Our nativity figures are made from cardboard and felt. My eldest daughter helped me make them 18 years ago. Since then we have acquired another more beautiful nativity set, but we all love our home-made one the best!

    I enjoyed your post!

    1. Thank you, Sue. I also love many things that are homemade. :)

  10. Thanks for sharing these thoughtful reflections. During tough times and suffering, an embrace of the meaning of Christmas might be just what people need to bring them hope.

    1. You're welcome, Christine.

      I read this in an article a few minutes ago and it reminded me of this post I wrote:
      "We can't put a tree inside, but I still want to celebrate Christmas," said Melaflor, who escaped the devastation wrought upon his community by sheltering with his seven siblings and parents in a nearby school.

  11. I love love the pictures of your boys. Their beautiful smiles remind me of what Advent is all about. Joyful anticipation.

  12. Such an insightful post and I love your take on how to still celebrate Christmas and make it meaningful despite the tragedies of the Typhoon! I pinned your post on my Pinterest board because the nativity craft with the sticks is adorable and doable! We make a birthday cake for Jesus too, which my kids love! Have a blessed Advent!

  13. Hi Teresa, indeed he is Emmanuel and with us in good times and bad! The typhoon in the Philippines is beyond comprehension. Both my pastor and associate pastor are Filipino and in fact, my pastor was leaving the Philippines (a few hours south of Milan) as the typhoon was approaching. He made it to Hong Kong before it really hit. We had no communication with him for a couple of days and didn't know what to think. Praise God that he made it back safely and that his family and our associate's family are safe too. Sadly, we have other parishioners who have lost family members. We had a special Mass to pray and give to CRS in Milan and a couple of religious orders south of Milan. In fact, we are still receiving money to send over. Your DIY decorations are cute for your little children. They look quite happy in your photos. You have a beautiful family! May God pour out his love and graces on your family and the Philippines.

    1. Praise God that they were safe! And thank you also!

  14. three great reminders of Who and what we are celebrating...and great reminders to give to those in need...during Advent and throughout the rest of the year.

  15. Cake for Jesus is brilliant! I mean, we already get the gifts, why not go all out for the birthday party? When I was younger we would sometimes sing Happy Birthday before opening presents. That seems in line with what you said above.

  16. Simple is often best, Indeed, even when life is not forcing us to simplify, sometimes it still is best to. So, I appreciate your thoughts here. I also love the photos of your simple, yet meaningul craft.