Say what? Yes, it’s true. Christmas is really our Thanksgiving Day or season. We give thanks to everyone who helped us get through the year. We remember our “Kuya,” “Ate” and like a popular softdrink commercial which can bring you to tears, we remember the people who have been nice to us and whose names we do not even know or bothered to find out. Come Christmas time, we remember to give them a chocolate bar, a bag of camote chips, a candy pack, or a box of ensaymada.
Then, we remember all our staff and employees with grocery bags, T-shirts, the ubiquitous umbrella with company logos. Our staff remembers us with a bottle of wine, a chocolate gift box, or a bag of our favorite coffee.
Then we say thank you and go to Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo. I see the same faces, year on year. People who have made it a habit to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning, fulfill the nine days of novena, and remember to say thank you for all the good we have received.
So it is a good time to show gratitude to the strangers who have made our lives a little easier and to the friends and family who always are there to give us support.
More than material gifts, it is the time to also forgive and forget, and mend ways with family members we do not get along with so much. It is time to rekindle friendships with people we hardly see during the year. More than receiving material gifts, it is good to give the gift of forgiveness and understanding. To give and receive gifts that are priceless—that is the best.
To many families, the homecoming of a loved one during Christmas is a most-awaited event. To OFWs, expats and other foreign workers, Christmas is for home leaves. It is for tearful reunions with tears of joy and happy celebrations.
I also have friends who only like “functional” gifts. So I remember to also give them practical gifts. Gifts you can use, not gifts that stay in their boxes, still wrapped, never opened—and maybe to be recycled or looking for another recipient.
There are a lot of homemade gifts, which are so thoughtful and really give a part of the soul of the giver. I always get a Queso de Bola spread from my good friend Lydia Castillo of “In My Basket” fame. Reena Francisco of ECHOstore makes her favorite Arrabiatta Pasta Sauce and her embotido (from her mother’s handed down recipe). And my good friend Alice Vergara only makes her adobo for me during Christmas.
Then we have the specialties: I get balut from Pateros from my good friend Lena Lubi. Fruit salad from my sister in law Charito (from her mother’s recipe). Fresh pomelo from Carrie Piit of Davao. Cookies from Monica Dizon, daughter of Joanna Preysler-Francisco.
And just like food, there are special non-food gifts as well. These are treats like facials at a famous Skin Spa; a total Qi Harmony massage at my favorite wellness place, and Jeannie Javelosa’s favorite gift to me of an Ayurvedic Masaage at Arogya.
These gifts are truly personalized and thoughtful.
The best gifts, however, are gifts of giving . . . of ourselves. Baby sitting for a friend. House cleaning for a family member who is super busy. Clutter control or decluttering a closet for a good friend. Walking the dog of a friend who is away for sometime. Watching over a loved one who is sick.
So let us make this Christmas Day very meaningful by giving of ourselves. It is economical, easy on the pocket, but big on value and meaning. It is the best way to say thank you to someone we owe so much to. Or someone who has done miracles for us. Find out what they really wish for—and then offer to do it for them. Or give your time, quality time.
That will really make Christmas a Thanksgiving Day. Merry Christmas!
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium,Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan ,Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.