There are three very specific days my family celebrates Christmas all together. The Sunday before Christmas is always spent with my mom’s whole side of the family, including her uncles and their kids. I spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and Christmas day is spent with my mom’s family. Needless to say celebrating Christmas with my family gets a little crazy! Kids are running around playing hide and go seek inside. Some silly aunt gives all the kids silly string to shoot at each other. There are nerf gun wars. Someone gets a new board game that has to be played. Desserts are the rave of the meal. Bets are made on who will jump in the pool. There is laughter exceeding laughter everywhere you look around.
And I LOVE it all!
I assumed not celebrating Christmas at home would mean all of those crazy things would be taken away and Christmas would be super calm.
Boy was I wrong!
In the Philippines, Christmas is welcomed in at midnight on Christmas Eve by celebrating with family and shooting fireworks. Right before midnight on Christmas Eve we drove to Divisoria in search of fireworks. As we walked up to an empty Divisoria expecting a brightly lit up sky, we were greeted instead by shouts of “Merry Christmas” and the best hugs from our kids.
On a typical night in Divisoria there are hundreds of people just hanging out. On Christmas Eve all of those people were in their homes celebrating with their families, while our kids were the only ones around, celebrating Christmas with the only family they know-each other.
After hugs and shouts were exchanged the talk began of shooting fireworks. So for the next little bit we all stood in Divisoria playing with fireworks and welcoming in Christmas together.
Some of my fondest firework memories are standing in my yard on New Year’s Eve watching fireworks with friends gathered around as one or two people shoot fireworks at a time.
This was NOTHING like that!
Each kid was holding the weirdest assortment of fireworks. Snakes, fountains, sparklers, airplanes, roman candles, firecrackers all just waiting to be lit. But the fireworks didn’t stay in their hands for long. Before I knew it everything was being lit at once. Things flying in the air. Things crawling on the ground. Sparks all around. Everyone was laughing while at the same time looking around to make sure nothing was flying towards them. It was wonderful!
As we finished shooting fireworks and telling the kids goodnight I couldn’t help but laugh at the whole night. All around the world kids were tucked in bed early at night by their parents in expectation for morning when they would wake up to Santas goodies all around from his visit the night before. Our kids were standing in the middle of the road shooting fireworks and being completely silly until early hours of the morning. As we talked about it on the way home my heart became more and more excited for the Christmases to come when our kids will have those parents to tuck them into bed, not just on Christmas Eve, but every night!
As if Christmas couldn’t get any crazier we planned a Christmas celebration with just us and the kids at the center on Christmas day. All week long I was the most excited for these few hours on Christmas day! We planned a traditional Filipino meal complete with noodles, hotdogs with marshmallows and fruit salad. We picked out a new outfit for each kid. We made sure each kid had a Santa hat (our version of a stocking) full of goodies.
While driving over to the center I was full of excitement. I couldn’t wait to just spend Christmas with our kids. I wanted to give them their new outfits right away. I wanted to sit and play with the play dough that was in their Santa hats.
But all of that would have been way to boring. Instead we laughed and danced and sang. Spontaneously and ridiculously. Without any cares in the world. We belted out Christmas songs at the top of our lungs. There was laughter. There was smiling. There was craziness.
But above all there was love.
It didn’t matter that their only gifts all Christmas were a new outfit and a Santa hat full of goodies. It didn’t matter that for dinner we only had noodles instead of lechon (rotisserie pig).
It just mattered that we were together. We were there to love each other, to hug each other, to laugh with each other. We were celebrating Christmas together. We were a family!
Merry Christmas from my new family to yours! May all of your days be as crazy as my Christmas celebrations!