By Atty. Howie Calleja
Are you one those who are excited about this season that is tagged as “the most wonderful time of the year”? You are also probably one of the people who love to monitor the countdown towards Christmas day. It usually begins in the 100th day (September 16) before the festive celebration of Jesus’ Birthday.
Our Christmas Countdown starts during the “ber” months — months that end in “ber” — therefore, from SeptemBER to DecemBER. All these start as early as September 1, extending until the Feast of the Three Kings, making this the longest Christmas in the world. So, when you hear Jose Mari Chan Christmas songs played on the radio and in the malls, you know that it’s the Christmas season once again.
Being lost in all our Christmas preparations — decorating, food, gift buying, etc. — might result in neglecting the “essentials” of the season. FAITH, FAMILY and FRIENDS must always characterize the Filipino Christmas Season. So, during our 100 Days Christmas Countdown, let’s do a little planning. Ready?
First, MAKE YOUR CHRISTMAS CALENDAR. Mark parties, get-togethers, reunions and errands for the entire Christmas season for everyone on the family calendar. If you don’t have a family calendar, get or make one now. Put it in a place where the entire family can see it. You won’t miss a special event or gathering if everything is on the calendar. Make sure to include in your planning time to clean, bake, wrap, decorate, and shop. Don’t forget to reserve time to worship and spend time with your family.
Secondly, MAKE YOUR GIFT LIST and check it twice! Read advertising fliers. Search online for Christmas Sales (be financially smart most especially during this time of financial difficulties). Shop early to get the best promos. If you purchase items online, make sure to do so far enough in advance to allow for slow delivery due to the holiday rush. Purchase as much as possible in advance. Wrap gifts immediately. If your tree is already up, put the gifts under the tree. If not, be sure you put the gifts in a safe place (but remember where you put them)! If you are a DIY type of person and have the time, consider making some gifts.
Thirdly, START DECORATING EARLY. Get out your decorations and sort through them. Get help with ornament storage and “parols” (our pinoy Christmas lanterns). Get rid of Christmas lights that don’t work. Dispose cracked non-sentimental decors. Change non-functioning bulbs on light strings. Replace the entire string with a fresh set, if necessary. Don’t take chances! Many homes have been ruined by fire during the holidays by faulty lights and unattended candles.
Finally, BE A BEING FOR OTHERS. In the spirit of Christmas, don’t forget the poor and less fortunate. Get involved in charitable giving such as the Gift Giving projects for street children. Donate food to your local churches or parish communities. Make a thoughtful gift basket and visit an elderly or sick neighbor who may be over-looked during the holidays. Make a cash donation to your favorite charity.
In the end, by knowing exactly how much time we have remaining to complete a task, instead of stressing about it, we will be able to better allocate our time. In fact, a 100-day countdown also acts as a secondary motivator and reinforces us Filipinos to complete our Christmas tasks before the big day.