Few things match up to the Pinoy holidaze, but do we still remember what the season really means?
Real talk: Do we still even know what the holidays mean?
There comes a point in every person’s life when the holiday season stops becoming the most wonderful time of the year and transforms into a panicfueled, seemingly endless string of parties and social obligations taxing every aspect of your being.
The days of carefree indulgence, spent high on life and sugar, make way for mile-long lists detailing errands, gifts to buy, and parties to attend, many of which we don’t quite care for and would ditch in a heartbeat if it meant solo time with a movie streaming service.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate the holidays. Far from it, in fact: I’m notorious for planning what I’ll be making for Nochebuena months in advance, for picking the perfect Christmas-y movies to marathon, and for endlessly Googling “best eggnog recipe in the world”.
What gets me, though, is how much of the holidays have deviated from the stuff that truly matters (in my case, spending the whole day in my pajamas and being beaten at Scrabble by my mom) to the stuff that doesn’t (having a shiny new
Cosmopolitan dress for every event I attend and getting the right, blue-boxed gift from my nonexistent boyfriend). Everyone’s priorities may differ, of course, but I do believe that there are moments when—cliché alert—the holiday spirit becomes nothing but a hazy afterthought.
Tradition and our personal principles converge most strongly during this time of year, and that may be when the stress monster rears its ugly head. With the season starting three months before December 25th, we’re bombarded with images of stuff to buy, things to do, places to go, what our holidays need to look like. The pressure to spend time, money, and effort is on because of course we have to get a gift for every single person we’ve made contact with in 2015! Of course, we have to attend our college Christmas party, even if we haven’t seen each since graduation! Of course, we have to make nice with our extended family, even that nasty tita who revels in telling us we’ve gotten fat!
At the end of it all, we’re exhausted, and not in that flushed, fulfilled manner;
DECEMBER 2015 more in the I-need-to-sleepfor-a-week way. Christmas/ Hannukah/festivus whatever holiday we celebrate, honestly, loses meaning when all we’re doing is going through the motions, but who can really blame us? There are so many reasons why we fake it. Some people do it to get ahead. Others do it to build or maintain some public image. Other people do it just to keep the peace, because Lord knows one snarky response to your older cousin’s feigned concern over your dead-end job might make lolo go into cardiac arrest. But does doing all these things or buying and getting all these presents make us truly joyful?
I’m not the most religious person, so Christmas for me isn’t necessarily about the Simbanggabi or that Advent wreath whose meaning I’d forgotten since grade school. Neither am I that social butterfly who has a glamorous, festive, sparkly event to attend every night of the week. What the holidays are to me, and what it probably started as for many, is a yearly opportunity to show the people you love, the people who’ve been with you through the good times and the rough patches, how much they matter and how much you appreciate them—with or without gifts. What’s the point, after all, of stressing about what to wear to that party you’re dreading, or possibly going into credit card debt for all your gifts if it’s not really putting the “happy” in “Happy Holidays”?
“We fake it to get ahead, to build a public image, or just to keep the PEACE.”