Our Advent Wish by Simon and Rina Villalon

Preparing a family blessed with young and energetic children (aged 11, 8, and 7) for Christmas is like herding puppies into a pen. They are small and cuddly enough that the chore is enjoyable and they don’t resist too much, but there’s a fair amount of yapping and nipping going on that it begs the question, “Do they truly appreciate the spirit of the season?”

Simple traditions help us to understand what’s going on with them. We started putting up the Christmas lights as a family a year or two ago, though this year our helpers got excited and put everything up themselves. For the first time, the kids have a little tree of their own to decorate, which they’ve done by stringing Christmas letters together and hanging them on the tree. The time spent together while decorating is spent telling them stories about how we would celebrate Christmases when we were younger – riding down Ayala Avenue to look at the lights, or driving to Greenhills or COD to marvel at the Christmas dioramas in their mechanical twinkling splendor. They laugh at our stories and our silliness as we tell them, almost as much as they laugh at themselves as they clumsily and determinedly hang their beloved decorations. It’s a simple tradition, one of many, and we hope that it’s enough to remind them that the season is for creating joyful memories with the ones we love most.

This year, the kids surprised us with a couple of preparation ideas of their own. When we asked our daughter Téa how she thought we should prepare for Christmas, she said that we should pray the rosary more often. Gusto, our youngest, said that he was preparing by remembering his Mama (lola) Tetes who passed away earlier this year. Good ideas can come from anywhere.

Every year we look forward to the joy and love that the Season brings, and each year we struggle to complete the kilometric list of obligations and tasks that come along with it. Yet somehow, miraculously, our Lord reminds us that there is a greater spirit at work – and that through His grace we will all have a truly meaningful Christmas.