Have A Merry Christmas, Maligayang Pasko

It’s the happiest time of the year, Christmas season. And with it comes the sight of Santa at our favorite malls, the sound of yuletide on radio and live choral performances, the smell of fresh Douglas Fir, Spruce, Pine trees, the taste of eggnog and turkey (lechon for Filipinos), and all the emotions along the spectrum from joy to gratitude.

Christmas to-dos in Hawaii is back in full swing: from the old favorites like Honolulu Hale City Lights and downtown lights extravaganza to new favorites at the 3rd Annual Show Aloha Land at the Aloha Stadium where there is 3,600 sq feet of fresh snow for kids to go on tobogganing, 3 new trains for keiki, and a human snow globe.

Filipino Christmas Traditions Resumed
Christmas 2022 is arguably the first Christmas to be celebrated fully (not scaled back) as it used to be before the pandemic with vaccinations now widespread and COVID-19 far more manageable (but it’s still around and select populations are advised to wear masks).

We’re all glad to be celebrating again. For our Filipino community, we are enriched to be continuing both our western and Catholic traditions during Christmas. The western half, shopping in-person which many say enlivens the holiday spirit versus shopping online. Our Catholic traditions: Simbang gabi (a devotional nine-day series of masses just before Christmas) Misa de Gallo (Christmas Eve mass) and Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner).

Old traditions, new outlook
While we’re excited to return to normalcy and practice our old traditions, the pandemic forever changed many families and communities hard hit with loss. To start, holiday gatherings come with deeper appreciation. This virus put the larger picture into focus, that really, all along there never has been any guarantees – guarantee that next Christmas can be celebrated the way we’d like it, or that those who we love will be around with us due to passing on or illness or moving to another state.

During times of austerity brought on by the pandemic and with today’s high inflation, people’s outlook toward money has also changed – there’s heightened concern to meet paying our bills, and at the same time, if we are financially secure, there’s more stock placed on family time than putting in more time at work to make money for luxury spending.

Creative gift-giving during hard times that could go a long way
Because once again this year money is tight for many people but this time due to high prices of basic consumer goods and energy services, we encourage creative gift-giving that can help with daily expenses. Perhaps gift cards to a grocery store or establishment that sells essentials like Foodland or Longs Drugs are great ideas. Everyone spends on gas. A 7-Eleven Gift Card can be used for gasoline or anything in the store. Everyone also needs periodic car oil change. Jiffy Lube sells gift cards.

Consider group buys (family members contribute) for higher priced but essential items like a new computer that dad has been holding off on purchasing.

Entertainment is increasingly becoming unaffordable and falls into the luxury category for many who are struggling. But entertainment is that special moment to lift us from life’s doldrums and provides a temporary escape from our worries. Consider buying gift cards for movie theaters or a restaurant.

Reason for the season
Besides our unique cultural practices of Christmas, this holiday is about celebrating life, our own, our families, humanity, and to God for giving us life, and if you’re a Christian, for sending his son Jesus Christ.

It’s also about finding goodness in the world, in each other and within. It’s about charity and goodwill, helping the less fortunate, extending our love to the homeless, to people we know who lost family, perhaps their job, or others with ongoing struggles like chronic physical or mental health.

It’s a time of healing, to mend bridges in relationships that have collapsed. It’s a time to return to innocence and believe once again in ideals such as world peace, however unrealistic it might seem.

There are many in our communities and close network who need help this holiday season. This we are already aware of and have known what some of these needs have been all year. But there’s something special about Christmas that transforms us into action to be a better friend, better neighbor, better family member, better citizens in our communities and society.

In part, this – Christmas bringing out the best in us — happens because joy is infectious. Positive energy spreads. Christmas is like stepping into a room with happiness and goodwill abound. We may not feel our best before entering that room. But we come out of it feeling much better and consequently do better for ourselves and others.

During Christmas we’re inspired by Jesus himself. We not only celebrate Jesus’ birth in Christmas, but the season also brings out the best in us to be more Christlike.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

He also said, “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall if be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

We wish all of you – our loyal readers, advertisers, community supporters and collaborators – a Merry Christmas, Maligayang Pasko. For seniors and those immunocompromised take precautions and be safe.

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