Growing up, my mom had all sorts of fun holiday traditions. We would mostly practice these traditions during Christmas Eve. My mom used to make a BIG feast during Christmas Eve, called Noche Buena. We would have warm pandesal (Filipino bread), oven-roasted ham, and hot cocoa. We would eat, sing Christmas songs, and then attend midnight mass. After mass, we get into matching pajamas and open just one present before bed. Along with Christmas lights, our house would be decked out with Parols (Filipino Christmas Star Lanterns). Writing all about it brings back nostalgia of how fun and exciting it all was. I remember not being able to sleep because I was too eager to see if Santa came by already. I used to also leave him milk and cookies, but always wondered why they were never touched the next day! It sparked my curiosity if Santa actually existed, haha. My mom always replied “Santa is too full from all the other houses he’s been to!”
Now that I have a family of my own, I still want to practice all the Christmas traditions from my childhood til today. However, now living in a smaller place we can’t put up all the pretty parols, but we can still have a delicious Noche Buena. To add to that, my family and I want to start something new this Christmas season and make it a tradition.
We are going to start volunteering locally on Christmas morning. My husband and I do not come from a big family, and the older all of our relatives get, the lonelier holidays seem to be. Therefore, we decided to do something new and embark on a new tradition. This year, we are going to volunteer at Christmas Dinner-at-the-Park. Though my son is only 2 years old, I wanted to start this new tradition because I want to instill the importance of giving back to the community during the holidays. It is our 3rd Christmas as a family, and the first 2 years it has been about the presents we are going to give him, and making it extra exciting for him. However, let’s be real; He’s not going to remember all of that. But, if we make it a promise and a tradition to volunteer during the holidays, he will remember that, for sure. How do I know? When I was 5 years old, I used to live in the Philippines. I remembered my mom and I cooking spaghetti and fried chicken on Christmas morning, and passed it out to homeless children. We probably made about 30-40 meals packed in a styrofoam container, along with boxed juices. 30-40 meals does not seem a lot, but it’s still the thought and act that matters. I remembered how grateful and happy the children and their families were. I want my son to remember the same thing. Maybe he won’t remember it this year, but hopefully he does in the years to come.
Volunteering is free, or with a small donation. If you’re in the Los Angeles area check out the links below for volunteer opportunities during the holidays! Many of them you can attend with your family and are kid friendly!
I am beyond excited to volunteer this Christmas with my family! I will post up pictures of the event after the holiday madness ends! What do you and your family do during the holidays? Are you celebrating new or old traditions? Please comment below, I’d love to hear them!
Hope you got your stretchy pants ready! Thanksgiving is in 5 days! So excited to eat!
Til Next Time,