Whenever the calendar turns towards the -BER months, around the same time when we Pinoys start to feel (or imagine!) that the breezes are getting cooler, and we start hearing Christmas carols on continuous loop in the malls, we also get all caught up in the anticipation for fun and festivities of the holiday season.
Those are all just part of the holiday spirit.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world, the loss of loved ones due to the sickness, the closure of many businesses and unemployment of many workers, can it still be Christmas?
My answer: yes, of course!
We Pinoys love Christmas so much that we won’t let COVID-19 cancel the holiday that brings hope and joy to everyone.
This holiday season, because of the restrictions to mobility or limitations on budget brought about by the pandemic, we won’t be traveling to places in our bucket list, gathering in boisterous families with our clan, nor squeezing into crowded malls for our Christmas shopping. But we can still have a merry – and even more meaningful – Christmas in this time of COVID-19.
Here are some ways to go about this:
1) Spend wisely
Given all the financial uncertainty that many of us are facing, now is not the time to splurge. Your Christmas bonus or aguinaldo may be needed for some unexpected expenses later on.
That said, you can still get a bit of holiday retail therapy done if you employ a bit more effort or creativity.
Prioritize buying the essentials – such as food, clothes and health products – but look for great deals. For instance, Shopee’s 11.11-12.12 Big Christmas Sale includes Php1 deals on selected fashion, self-care and stationery items which users can enjoy during the period leading up to December 12.
You can also find ways to buy what you need without having to shell out cash. Your loyalty points may already have accumulated to a sizable amount that you can use them to purchase items. Case in point: I once bought over Php1,000 worth items from Miniso using my BDO Rewards points.
2) Be together, while staying apart.
One of the most difficult adjustments that this New Normal has brought about is the need for physical distancing. Especially among us Pinoys who are naturally outgoing and affectionate to our loved ones, being physically separated can be quite stressful.
While technology can’t take the place of a loved one’s actual physical presence, some small acts of thoughtfulness can chase away the feelings of isolation.
Our seniors, being high-risk individuals, bear most the brunt of these physical restrictions. Confined to their homes for months now, they can’t go out to stretch their legs or chat with their amigos and amigas. Be sure to check in on them regularly and cheer them up by sending pictures or video clips of the mundane yet happy moments that occur everyday, My mom, for instance, really appreciates when my kids video-chats with her via FB messenger.
Since the barkada can’t physically get together for a round of drinks, how about holding an e-numan sesh over Zoom? Send a ready-to-grill pack of barbecue or isaw from Mang Ding’s to your friends before the sesh to go with your favorite drinks while having your virtual bar hangout.
You can also make and share a Spotify playlist of your favorite songs from childhood with your friends so you can all reminisce about the hits from the past as well as share a laugh over your collective taste in music.
The key is to share a happy and memorable experience even while staying physically apart.
3) Give gifts that keep on giving.
For many of us, budget is pretty tight, even during the holiday season. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t show our love for our family and friends through gifts. In fact, a well-chosen gift that takes the needs of the recipient into consideration, especially during this time, will be greatly appreciated.
For instance, rather than giving the usual gift baskets or knick-knacks, gift your friends with groceries, care packs or hygiene kits instead. These are supplies that they will no doubt need in the coming days so by giving them as gifts, you are eliminating something from their to-buy list, thus saving them money and effort.
You can also choose to send gifts that support small businesses such as online food sellers that offer family trays of Filipino dishes or new bakers that offer boxes of monster-sized cookies. These thoughtful food gifts save the recipient from the hassle of preparing a meal or indulges their cravings.
How about gifting a loved one with a present made by your own hands? If you’ve taken up crocheting or knitting as a quarantine pastime, now would be a good time test your skills with some bespoke projects for your friends. If you’re among the plantitas or plantitas who sprouted during the lockdown, give your friends a cutting or a pot of your plants that they can have their own plant-babies to nurture in the coming year.
4) Share the love.
While life under COVID-19 may be hard on us, we know that other people may have been harder hit by the pandemic. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, you can still find ways to share your blessings to those in need.
For instance, if you’ve recently emptied out and reorganized your closets for the New Normal, you may have a lot of old clothes that can be donated to charities.
You can also use your loyalty points to give to charity. For example, you can redeem your GrabRewards points to donate to WWF, Red Cross, Unicef and more.
The pandemic may continue to wreak havoc in our lives well into the holiday season and even beyond. But it is up to us to keep that flicker of Christmas cheer burning despite all the challenges and difficulties of 2020, not just for our own enjoyment, but more importantly, to spark hope for others.
Happy holidays, dear readers! Stay safe!
Check out my other adventures compiled into Jelly Lists:
- Unusual desserts
- Chocolate dessert picks for World Chocolate Day
- Father’s Day gift ideas for your foodie dad
- Top picks from re-opened Marikina restos
- Extraordinary sushi picks
- Fresh takes on Filipino food
- Food Deliveries for Your Party at Home
- Desserts for Delivery During Quarantine
- My fave resto dishes you can enjoy at home
- The best of my foodie adventures in 2019
- HBO Original Productions premiering in October 2019
- Book adaptations to stream on Amazon Prime Video
- Healthy eats in QC
- Instagram-worthy restos east of Manila
- Crazy cocktails of QC’s top bars for #ThirstyThursday