Traditions bind families together and foster intimacy. They bring about connectedness and unity among family members. There may be times when your teenagers will complain about family traditions but as they grow older they will appreciate having grown up in these traditions. I know someone whose daughter always complained about visiting her grandparents and doing other family traditions when she was younger. Then when she grew older and broke up with her boyfriend one of her complaints was, “His family is not so solid, they don’t have traditions!”
There you go traditions help define your family. Members are given concrete activities to know what they stand for, what they value and what they enjoy doing.
Over the years we have come up with our own family traditions. Some are hand me downs; some are new and some are old or borrowed and tweaked to suit our family’s needs and taste. These traditions have helped in shaping up our family. And since I, like maybe some of you, still have that holiday hangover, I wish to share with you three of our Christmas traditions. (These are lifted from Chapter 8 of Raising Pinoy Boys)
Like most Filipino families we do the usual Noche Buena and Media Noche, so I will just share with you the not-so-usual aspects of our Christmas traditions.
The Hectic “Themed” Christmas Eve:
On Christmas eve, we have two big Christmas parties, one with my husband’s family and another one with my own family. There was one Christmas when we hosted both events in one day. We had two sets of costumes because each party had its own theme. It was a fun-filled day but it was very tiring. After this Christmas we started a tradition of assigning one host family every Christmas. We started by drawing lots. On my side, our oldest was picked as the host family so we decided to work from oldest to youngest. On Marvin’s side, the youngest was picked to host so we’re doing from youngest to oldest.
The host family takes care of the theme, the program, games and food assignment. The program and the games are always a blast. Adding a theme to a party always adds a little more excitement. At first, you will hear some complain about it but sometimes those who complain show up with the most well-thought of costumes. So when you try this and you hear some of your relatives complain, watch out, they will come in full gear! Have your cameras ready to capture the exciting celebration. It may be good to set up a tripod for your camera so everyone is in the photo during the family picture taking. It’s best if you have a remote control so you can do various poses without having to run back to the camera to reset the timer: smile, serious look, wacky, Vicky Belo smile (meaning mouth half open), lean to the left, to the right and many more. Below are some of the themes that we’ve had.
The Family Christmas Card
Since Marvin and I got married, I always made family Christmas cards which I mail to relatives and friends, especially those who are abroad and who do not see us regularly. It’s our way of updating each other on our growing family. Our first Christmas showed Marvin and me pregnant; later on the boys were there too, including their names and ages. With the advent of internet and with the boys becoming more computer savvy, I would sometimes ask one of them to prepare our annual Christmas card. There were Powerpoint versions and there were “print ad” versions. It’s a nice collection that I have compiled them into a Christmas album.
Yearender/Family Goal Setting
In the earlier years, we sat down and had a family meeting during the Christmas season and shared with each other what we wanted to achieve for the coming year. There was a time the tradition was totally focused on gift giving to Jesus, the real star of the Christmas season. We prepared individual letters to Jesus telling Him about our birthday gifts. Since we all know that the King of Kings needs nothing material, our gifts sounded very much like New Year’s Resolutions, “Dear Jesus, as my gift for you on your birthday I will be more patient with my younger brothers…”
Later on, we decided to put a little twist to it. One time while we were out of town after Christmas and before New Year, Marvin was testing his new audio recorder and he played around with it trying to sound like he was in a board meeting, “Do we have a quorum? Are there any questions on the minutes of the previous meeting? If none, are we ready to approve the minutes of the meeting?” So we joined in his game and recorded our family goal setting complete with a scribe who also took note of the “minutes of the meeting.”
What started as a game imitating a board meeting became the format of our annual goal setting. Each yearend, preferably in a place we’re visiting for the first time, we mention what we are most thankful for, then we review our previous goals and rate ourselves in terms of accomplishment. After which we say our goals for the coming year. Our goals range from the most profound “to help others in a meaningful way” to the most shallow, or should I say vain, “to have abs.” We try to make our goals concrete and time-bound so we have short term, medium term and long term goals. When we get back home, the scribe prints a summary of these individual and family goals and gives each family member a copy. We post our copies in places where we see them everyday.
How about you? What are your family traditions?
I wish you all a great 2013!