The spirit of Christmas

It’s that busy time of the year when many families rush to department stores and surf the web in order to secure a gift for Christmas. This holiday is always a special time of the year, especially for my family. 

Every year for Christmas, my family and I go to Mass and afterward we head over to my cousins’ place to celebrate. We partake in many memorable traditions such as eating a large meal with family and staying up and opening presents at midnight instead of the usual morning gift opening. 

The meal consists of traditional Filipino food such as pancit and empanada. Pancit is a noodle dish filled with many vegetables and can be customized with different types of protein such as   chicken, pork, or shrimp. It is also traditionally served on birthdays, because the long noodle signifies a long life ahead. Meanwhile, empanada is a stuffed pastry with diced potatoes, green peas, carrots, chicken or beef, and an optional addition of raisins. 

After the meal, we play games and watch Christmas movies to pass the time while waiting for the clock to strike midnight. Once it’s midnight, my cousins and I rejoice and scramble to gather around the Christmas tree to begin to open our gifts. We grow excited as each of us tear open our beloved presents and say our thank you’s in Tagalog.  

When it’s time to clean up all of the strewn wrapping paper on the floor, I suddenly think back on all of the gifts I’ve received this past year, whether big or small, and I’m filled with such gratitude. 

Christmas is about so much more than presents, and the spirit of Christmas endures much longer than just one significant day and this year allowed me to reflect on all of the blessings that have been given to me.