Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the season of giving and coming together—a joyous occasion celebrated differently across various cultures. It's the time of the year when houses and establishments are embellished with Christmas decorations in flickering lights with the resounding chimes of bells. Belens and parols of all sizes are displayed to accentuate the religious nature of the celebration, concurrent with the start of Simbang Gabi. Christmas symphonies are blared wherever you go with people wandering around for the Christmas carol. Groceries are jam-packed as people anticipate the Noche Buena feast, and transportation is crammed with people going home for the holidays.

Once upon a time, this is how we celebrated the merry occasion. But with everything going on during the past few years, it seems as if the Filipino Christmas spirit isn’t the same as before. What happened? Why does the Christmas feeling seem like nothing as it used to be, or is it just because we are getting older?

We barely cared about what was going on in the world when we were younger, as long as we wore our big smiles at Christmas, we were just fine and happy with everything. For us, Christmas was a carefree occasion where we just ate, received presents, and had fun. However, as we age, we become more jaded about the world, and Christmas becomes more of a routine than anything special. Some people we once celebrated with are no longer with us or have fallen out. They could be a family member or a special loved one, resulting in a dismal feeling reminiscent of the good times we had when they were still around to celebrate Christmas.

Moreover, we are so exposed to so many injustices that we think celebrating Christmas just doesn’t feel right anymore. We become more aware of everything around us, so some might feel burdened by continuing the same traditions as we usually do. This mostly pertains economically, as we experience back-to-back crises with the pandemic and several natural disasters. Some communities are still in the recovery and rebuilding process. The strikingly high inflation rate also took a toll on everyone’s pockets, so the Christmas budget is getting tighter.

The gifts we receive are getting less and less each year, and we are slowly becoming the ones who are giving presents as we grow older. But isn’t that one of the reasons why Christmas is the best? It's more about giving rather than receiving. When we were young, we were made to believe that Christmas was all about how many presents we got, and then as we got older, we became so used to that idea that if we didn’t receive or get what we wanted, we were often left disappointed. However, one must remember that Christmas is not just about us. It is for the ones who still believe in empathy, affection, and celebrating life. It is for those who want to tap their inner child, even if it’s just for a season or a month.

Our Christmas spirit may become less merry as we get older, yet this holiday may also help us realize the true meaning of the occasion. The birth of Jesus signifies the blessing of hope and goodwill that ought to continue to inspire people to believe in the spirit of Christmas. May we learn to give love the same way that God wants us to be loved.

Christmas celebrations do not end with childhood. Every person has a Christmas memory engraved in their heart that they will never forget. It's not about having the most lavish Noche Buena, the most extravagant Christmas decor, or the tallest Christmas tree; the genuine spirit of Christmas is found in the love we have for one another, something that time cannot take away.

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