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Holiday cheer

The second week of advent is coming up and soon the Simbang Gabi masses will begin and yet for most of us, invoking and feeling the spirit of Christmas is taking a lot of extra effort during this particularly difficult year.

For many, the Christmas trees and decors must have been put up by now. Those of us whose incomes were not severely affected by 2020 would have indulged in mostly online Christmas shopping. Christmas parties have been scheduled online, complete with games, booze and prizes. For those who are connected to the powers that be, pardonable mañanitas are still a distinct possibility. The rest of us will have to obey the rules or be added to the list of bad boys and girls.

As we plan for the Christmas of 2020 and find the ways and means to connect with family and friends that we have been left with no choice but to avoid since March, let us also think about our less fortunate countrymen who are still struggling to make ends meet as we deal with this terribly-managed pandemic in our own ways.

Try to be extra kind this Christmas, especially to those who have less. So many people have lost their jobs, sources of income, or side gigs in 2020. Filipinos have had to deal with the eruption of Taal Volcano, Covid-19, super typhoons, massive flooding. The impact of these disasters was made exponentially worse by the eternally fumbling response of our government that is supposedly run by the best and the brightest.

The legendary resilience of the Filipino is at its breaking point and the coming holidays give us the opportunity to do our share in propping up those who are at the verge of collapse. After not seeing where our taxes go, paying taxes is no longer enough. Those of us who can afford to give more could realign our Christmas budgets to benefit those who need it most. All is not lost because there are organizations that have proven themselves more responsive, transparent, and effective than our own government when it comes to helping Filipinos. These groups are the Santa’s elves that make up for the Grinches who have been stealing all year round, not just Christmas.

Aside from outright charity, we also have to consciously support the businesses that are still struggling to survive. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of many businesses and the loss of jobs and incomes. Those that remain standing up to now don’t even have the holiday season to count on. What is worse is that, despite everyone’s expectations, the new calendar year won’t turn things around. 2021 will only be better if our leaders and public officials magically become better at what they’ve been doing thus far.

We need to help each other and patronizing the small and big businesses in our communities is one way of ensuring that they can continue to keep their employees and pay suppliers. Christmas spending will be very different this year but if we can all stick together, next Christmas will hopefully be a much better one.

Instead of buying material possessions during these holidays, try engaging more services. Pre-pay for a barber, a beauty parlor or a massage. Gift a friend with a home cleaning service or a carwash. Order a cake or cookies from the hundreds of bakers currently hawking their wares on the internet. Purchase gift cards from local restaurants. Get your favorite family a portrait session with a weddingless photographer. There are so many creative gift ideas out there that can help a struggling local business and still give happiness. All we need to do is give it a little more thought.

Let’s spread the holiday cheer, even during and despite these difficult times. We still have a couple of days to figure it out how to truly give love (and not Covid) on Christmas Day. Let’s try a little bit harder this year.*

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