Growing up on the farm we used to celebrate Christmas with the whole family, I mean my parents, my siblings that’s not yet married at that time, my siblings with their family, my aunt that lives near our house, my cousins and some of our tenants. My dad would have one pig butchered during Christmas eve morning for the Noche Buena later. My parents and close family members will cook lots of different dishes and my mom and my aunt cooked snack foods. Few days before Christmas we draw names for our exchange gifts. The exchange gifts will occur at 12 midnight on Christmas eve. We all opened our gifts together. Honestly we just have a gift or 2 before, but we are so happy then. My cousins would buy a firecrackers to light up when the 12 midnight struck. It was just the adults that would light the firecrackers for safety reasons. We, the young ones, were the spectators. It was fun.
In Bob’s family they consist of his parents, Bob & I and kids, Bob’s brother & his family. My first experience celebrating Christmas with them was when I was in the States. That time his dad was still alive. It was fun having him as we prepared dinner early so that we could start the opening of the gifts earlier too. My first Christmas experience with them, we opened our gifts at around 7pm on Christmas eve. With slow opening of the presents we end up finishing up for almost 4 hours. With the talking and story of why we bought certain presents and stuff. It was really fun and exciting. Bob’s dad could always guess the presents he was getting even before he opened his gifts. He just shook the present and viola he already guessed it. Even if we brought the presents with us right before opening. He was really something. I felt he had a third eye. :-).
After opening, we would talk and had fun with our presents for like an hour or so. Time for us to head home preparing for Santa’s swinging by our house. We had to prepare cookies and milk for Santa and the sugar for the reindeer. Then the next day kids and adults would have fun getting what Santa left on our stockings and at the Christmas tree. Its all unwrapped presents he left there at the Christmas tree. Wow the kids really had fun.
Later that day we will have Christmas dinner at Bob’s parents house. Mom would cook really good stuff for all of us. She prepared pies a few days before Christmas and some other food that needs long preparation. Mom was also preparing rice for me of course. Sometimes I forgot to bring with me my rice cooker to their house. As you know they don’t have rice cookers with them. Somehow she knows how to cook the rice in the pan. It turned out good though. They even eat rice with me sometimes, only thing they put gravy on it. ha ha ha, not my rice. 😉
The following year all of us decided that we would eat dinner around 3pm, so that we can start opening presents by 5. So that we still have time to talk and hang out. We said that because the family keeps growing (with few grand kids coming) and it would take longer then. Really that turned out better for all of us. Kids had more time to enjoy playing with their toys and the adults had the time to chat and reminisced the past Christmas they had. It was fun for me learning more about what Bob and his family did before and also learning the culture. I’ve listened to the story of the family and they asked me about my family and the life here in the Philippines. It was good conversation for us learning both cultures.
Bob and I incorporate both of our cultures in our celebration now. It is good for us to teach our kids now. Its up to them if they want to carry both cultures with them when they had their own families. I know they all like the way we celebrate Christmas and the Thanksgiving. They told me that they like the way it is. I am also hoping that they will continue what Bob and I stated 10 years ago now. The giving of gifts to the less fortunate people. That would really make me and Bob happy if they did. That’s one thing that was added to both our celebration now.
On the early morning of the 24th of December we go and distribute the presents for the poor. Usually we finished up around 3 or 4pm. Try to rush home and start preparing for our dinner and Noche Buena. It’s just really a simple dinner just like any regular dinner day for us. The only difference is we will eat earlier. Then after the cleaning up of the table and stuff, the kids will then prepare the chairs in front of our Christmas tree in preparations for the opening of the Christmas presents. Being so many people in the house we have to start a bit early. We open our presents one person at a time. The person that receives the present has to show everybody what they got. Then after opening we prepare the table for the Noche Buena. It’s not really as fancy as the other Filipino families. We will have the Filipino snacks and other finger foods and drinks just to keep us awake. While waiting for midnight the kids will play outside. Here in Davao firecrackers are strictly prohibited which I am thankful for. I don’t hear injuries here compared to other cities here in the Philippines. Still have some hard headed people here would not listen, they go against the strict laws against firecrackers. But rare though. On Christmas day we will have a big dinner for all of us family. We cooked ham, scalloped pineapple, mashed potato, beans, rice and some other Filipinos dishes and pies. We will just lounging around the house and enjoyed each others company.
Anyway, how about you? How do you celebrate Christmas? Feel free to share, we love to listen to your stories!
Happy Holidays Everyone!!!