Now that I have a family of my own, I now understand how much of a big deal Christmas gatherings are. When I was a kid, I look forward to Christmas lunch, dinner and parties because I know I’ll get gifts from my titos and titas, grandparents, and godparents. Looking back, what makes Christmas reunions more special, apart from receiving gifts and celebrating with family and friends, is the effort that members of the family put in making such gatherings.
I’ve had my fair share of contributions when it comes to our annual Christmas reunions. As far as I can remember, some of them are challenging yet all of them are fun! So here are eight things that my family has made me do during our Christmas reunions.
DRESS LIKE TRIPLETS
Having three girls, my mom liked dressing us up. And by dressing up, I mean she’ll ask her tailor to create identical red and white polka dot petticoat dress for my sisters and I to wear. We look like we’re triplets – save for our height that made us look like we’re a staircase – from our hair, down to our clothes and shoes. And whenever we’d collect out red envelopes from grandparents and godparents, we have to go in cluster, like triplets! Now I find myself dressing up my kids in coordinated colors – this is how far I can get, similar style, but not identical.
SING A CHRISTMAS CAROL
This is mandatory for every child in our family. As soon as we’ve learned how to carry a tune, we’re automatically required to sing at least one Christmas carol. The one song I can’t seem to forget and has become a favorite is Jose Mari Chan’s A Christmas Carol. I can still sing it by heart, sometimes I catch myself singing it along with my lil’ Ms. JG.
PERFORM A DANCE NUMBER
To go up on the entertainment ladder during reunions, it’s expected of us to perform better. So my siblings and cousins would round up on weekends to rehearse and practice our dance number, so we can give them a show. SInce most of us are girls, we end up performing a Spice Girls song!
SHOWCASE A HIDDEN TALENT
The challenge about showcasing a hidden talent is finding out you don’t have one. My talents are pretty simple – flipping my tongue vertically, crossing my eye from left to right, twisting my arms behind me, and all other body contortion that I can do. Pretty lame if you ask me, until I realized I do have one hidden talent when I was young, I play the flute! And so one Christmas reunion, I surprised everyone by playing for them.
SET UP THE TABLE AND DECORATE THE PLACE
We usually have our Christmas lunch either at my Tita’s or at my parent’s house. And back when I was still living with them, my mom would always ask for my siblings and my help to spruce up the place a bit more. We’d add more ornaments to make the place more festive and set up the tables – one that serves as the buffet spread and the other where we all gather, to sit, sip, feast and be merry.
WRAP AND DISTRIBUTE GIFTS
As we grew older, my parents have given my sisters & I the task of wrapping gifts we’ll give to our family. We’d wrap them up one by one and write a note that comes with it. Come the big day, we’re in charge of distributing it to each and everyone in the reunion. Eventually, we find ourselves collectively agreeing (my parents and siblings) to shop for the gifts for our family and relatives, which we think they’ll love.
INTRODUCE SOMEONE SPECIAL
When I started dating Mr. JG more than a decade ago, I remember my titas and cousins would insist they meet this mysterious man that has swept me (and my parents) off my feet. Since my then boyfriend, Mr. JG also has a Christmas gathering of his own, he showed up a few hours after Christmas lunch. Everybody wasn’t expecting he’ll make it but him being late made the “meet the relatives” more exciting and memorable. The reunion ended with silent approvals from all of them and since then they’ve treated Mr. JG as part of our family.
BRING A DISH TO SHARE
If there’s one thing that’s constant in our annual Christmas gathering it’s that one must bring a dish to share to everyone. We’d brainstorm on what food to bring for our annual Christmas lunch. While most are excited to bring a dish that they’ve recently learned to cook or prepare, the favorites are always a hit to everyone. My cousin’s famous baked macaroni, my tita’s creamy leche flan, my mom’s macaroni salad made with Lady’s Choice and my mango float are just some of them.
I believe Christmas reunions are made special not only because of the people you’re with but also because of the dishes each one prepares for everyone to feast on di ba? Nothing like good food partnered with good people. And for me, this is what’s important. Simple man ang handa basta magkakasama, siguradong special and Christmas reunion. Creating this list made me excited for our upcoming Christmas gathering! Most, if not all of my cousins have a family of their own. So imagine how many kids there are! I can’t wait to see them all dressed up, sing a Christmas carol, preform a dance number and showcase their hidden talents. The rest of the things listed above, I’ll let them do when they’re a bit more older na. I guess this list can be a good tradition for my own kids too no?
Now I can’t wait to make more fun memories, take lots of photos, indulge on my mom’s Lady’s Choice macaroni salad – which by the way is super creamy and flavorful! – and just have a festive holiday with my family!
Do you recall a thing your family has made you do in at least one Christmas reunion?