A Filipina Mom’s Mini-Survival Guide to a Stress-Free Holiday
No scientific journal needs to prove that the Philippines has the longest (and the grandest) Christmas celebration in the world. If you’re Filipino, you just know that when the month of August ends, you unexplainably get fidgety either to spend more money or make some more to gear up for the Holidays.
For us Filipinos in America (or abroad), the pressure to keep most of our Filipino traditions can be a challenge because we live in a fast-paced world where if we snooze, our paychecks will do the same. For Filipino moms especially, the starry-eyed look in our children’s eyes is a huge motivator to put up some festive lights at home. But truth be told, this same motivator (kids!) can also be the biggest barrier to decking our halls with fra-la-la-la because these adorable creatures do everything except sit still.
So your vision of the most lit home in the neighborhood ( the city temporarily turned off the street lamp post just to accommodate your fancy) and a fully adorned Christmas tree may NOT be aligned with your current reality which leaves you incomplete and defeated.
You just can’t wait for the Holidays to be over is your mantra.
You try though and drag your kids to every Christmas-y Bazaar and events like a drill sergeant on Christmas boot camp.
It supposed to be fun.
But it’s just not.
Maximize Experience, Minimize Stuff
The good news…you can keep some of your Filipino Christmas Traditions to a minimum while maximizing yours and your family’s Joyousness (yep, made that up) over the holidays.
- Change Your Mind. Imagine a family in your mind with minimal Christmas décor, only a Christmas tree and an outside wreath enjoying each other’s company, sharing lots of hugs and cuddles as they treat themselves to a classic movie over Christmas eve. When you imagine this in your mind, try to see the smiley faces of the kiddos vividly in your mind. Better yet, see the mom’s delighted face as she enjoys a peaceful holiday with her family.If you only imagined Christmas as Christmas lights, unending family reunions, overflowing gifts under the tree, shopping galore while you try to prep food for an army of people-you set yourself up for either burn-out or stress. When you change your mind, you change your interpretation and thus, your behavior about situations in your life. Who said that the Holiday should be all about that?
- Expect Less of Others. When you get to check off all the boxes on your to-do-list, you unconsciously hold the bar higher for others to do the same. “I can do it, why can’t you and I have 3 young kids, “ is your self-righteous, under your breath remark.
Everyone else is NOT like you.
Everyone else is not responsible for your holiday joy.
Most importantly, the rigid expectation you expect of others is a projection of your rigid expectation of yourself. Practice being kind to others. Do this my imagining a year when you’re strapped for cash and was unable to pull off gifting everyone in your family. How would you wish your relatives to respond to your situation? Would you wish for them to genuinely be more concern about YOU or give you a hard time for not following through with the fam’s Christmas tradition.
- Delegate. Switch Roles. I understand, if you give up your traditional empanada-making tradition this holiday because things are a bit too busy, it might be difficult for you to give-up anything else. That’s ok. Giving up one thing is a good start to give you space to catch your breath. Just try not to back-fill this space with new things to do; it’ll defeat the purpose of finding your sanity this Holiday season.
Instead, if you MUST make your own DIY gifts, delegate tasks to your older children or purchase the gift tags rather than making all of it from scratch.
If you MUST bake the most requested Honey Baked Ham, switch your usual role with someone else. Instead of you picking up the kids or doing the Costco run, let your reliable hubby do this. Just this one time, you don’t have to see what’s on sale on Costco or be the one to choose the best carton of eggs in the shelf. Believe me, no special training is required to acquire these skills.
- Know your budget. Use cash envelope if necessary. One of the most stressful things about the Holidays is knowing you’re going over-budget or not knowing how much you’ve spent on stuff. Shopping only gives you a temporary elated feeling until you view your credit card statement. The stress on the latter stays with you much longer than the joy you get from shopping.
One helpful tip is to write down the names of people you are gifting to and write a maximum amount you’re willing to spend next to their name. By doing this, you get to your budget amount. If it’s too much, you can work on decreasing the maximum amount allotted on each name until you get to your feasible amount. Withdraw this amount and use envelopes to categorize your budget for gifts, food, decors ..etc. Consumer Psychologist, Ian Zimmerman points out that “impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness.” Shop with intent and you will shop confidently and with less stress.
- Learn to say NO to others, kindly. If you find yourself running too many errands for others leaving yours with the cricket, pause for a minute and slow yourself down. What’s your difficulty with saying the N-O? Do you fear that someone may see you as unkind, selfish, and just plain rude?Are you? Check to see if your positive self-view of yourself solely rely on how others perceive you. If so, sit with this for a minute and know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Undoing this distorted world view of yours takes time. For now, practice saying NO gracefully. When you say No to others, you give yourself Yesses to do more things you love.
I wish you and your family an Enchanted, Stress-Free Holiday. If you’re reading this post after the Holidays, know that you can apply this guide to other parts of your life.
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Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 12 years. She has frequented at least 400 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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