It’s that time of the year once again. While most of us will celebrate long-held traditions, some will continue to seek new ones. It is not always easy to seek and celebrate new traditions. Because we are Filipinos, we cherish long-held practices and often go out of our way just to make sure our holiday season is celebrated as closely as possible to how it was back home.
There are some who dread the holiday season, perhaps because they feel uncomfortable with new traditions. The holidays bring with it memories of “home,” of friends and family, and of cherished practices. Filipinos love the Christmas season so much because it is supposed to usher in the festive mood, much sought-after at the end of a back-breaking year of hard work and sacrifice. They love the season for what it reminds them of: home.
And every year, at this time, a reminder of home becomes a bittersweet episode in the life of a “relocated” Filipino. We long for those days and nights of merriment, with family, friends, co-workers, even mere acquaintances. We long for the Christmas rush, for the parties, and the Kris Kringle at the workplace. Somehow, without the long-held traditions, the holidays are just not the same for us.
Understandable as it is to feel homesick, we should teach ourselves one thing: we may have left our homes, but homedoesn’t really leave us. As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.” There is something grander and greater than holiday traditions and practices, and if we just pause momentarily from our busy lives and think about it, we will be reminded of the single most important tradition that transcends all other holiday traditions—the tradition of giving.
We don’t need to give gifts. I believe that in the Christian context (which is really the basis for the Christmas celebration), it is all about generosity. Being generous with your love, your time, your patience, and your wisdom is really what this season should be about. After all, this season is based on a story about a baby who was born in a manger to save us from sin. That was the gift given, and that is what our holiday tradition should be all about.