COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the way we celebrate occasions. There might have been limitations, but it became more favorable for me. Since office parties, social gatherings, family reunions, and other events were suspended, I had more time, energy, and resources to focus on spending it with my loved ones. I didn’t get too stressed planning on what to wear for different Christmas parties and what presents to give on countless exchange gifts. Sometimes, the Christmas season becomes overbearing that we lose the true essence of this celebration and rather dwell on superficial things like gifts, food, parties, etc. For some reason, the introvert in me gets too stressed during Christmas! I feel like I am being forced to socialize and spend just to blend in.
We might still be adjusting to the new norm of gatherings, but there’s so much to look forward to if you change your perspective. For me, I enjoyed more time of solitude and reflection and having the chance to narrow my priorities to value what’s more important. This season was less complicated, a bit dull, yet more meaningful for me. If I were to be asked, I’d still prefer this intimate celebration over the traditional Christmas parties in the past.
I took a leave from work before Christmas so I can have more time to do holiday errands and enjoy my vacation.
We did not put up a Christmas tree this year. Traditionally, it was decorated by my mom with the help of my dad, but he’s no longer with us. I think we subconsciously avoided it to prevent remembering the memories of my dad.
I went to the mall not to overspend on shopping for myself, but to get presents for my family and loved ones. I went shopping mostly for groceries, household essentials, and basic needs but that’s it. I also bought a few appliances for our new house in Cavite.
Before, I used to have a long list of people in my Christmas presents shopping. Now, it was narrowed to immediate family, closest friends, and godchildren. I am happy that I get to give the gifts I really wanted to give to the people important to me. Previously, I was controlled by a tight budget to fit all my recipients like relatives, friends, officemates, and even acquaintances. It was more of leaning on the idea of wanting to please people that I end up being pressured then eventually broke. This Christmas, I focused on giving what I think can make my loved ones really happy.
I also had this realization to appreciate more the gifts other people gave me this Christmas because I know that it’s hard to have stable finances this pandemic.
Christmas Eve Dinner
On Christmas eve, I just cooked a few dishes and my family just ordered food. The rest of the food on the table was given by friends.
New Year in Cavite
We spent the New Year in our new house in Cavite. Compared to last year’s celebration when the house was raw and bare, this year we had more furnishing improvements courtesy of my sister. My cousin, sister, grandmother and I went to Cavite on the 29th to clean the house and do some groceries. We brought our four dogs namely Basti, Raffa, Weaky, and Oreo. My mom and brother followed on the 31st of December. It was more comfortable to move around this time because we already have an almost-complete cooking equipment compared to last year when we had to borrow stuff from the neighbors.
I took the time to research new recipes and cooked traditional ones. I imitated Cibo’s Pasta Al Telefono. I prepared a Charcuterie board for the first time. (Ang mahal pala nito!) I also cooked Beef with Mushroom which is a favorite in the family. For sides and appetizers, I made potato salad and buttered vegetables. Fish Fillet with Tartar Sauce became a secondary option as I was initially planning to create Norwegian Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce but Salmon was unavailable in the supermarket. My sister cooked her signature recipe, Molo Soup. My mom bought the roasted chicken and cake. Cooking for the NYE is really tiring, but rewarding to see your family happy and satisfied. I just remembered how my dad persevered during holidays when he used to work as a cook.
We planned of going to Tagaytay the next day but had a failed attempt of dining because of the severe traffic. Nevertheless, we enjoyed each other’s company in our humble abode together with our four dogs. The ambiance in the province is really different and more relaxing.
Different but not less significant
It was quite hard for my family celebrating the holidays without my Dad for the first time. It was a mix of emotions. As usual, I had quiet episodes of crying every time I remembered the fond memories we had with him during Christmas and New Year. However, I just diverted my attention to expressing my love for my family by making meaningful gestures for them such as acts of service, gift giving, and spending quality time with them. For me, it’s definitely priceless.
As the year came to a close, I thank the Lord for helping us survive the year. His love and grace is still constant even with the outbreak of the virus or the untimely demise of my father. I’ll expound more on separate year-ender post so stay tuned!