Famous American comedian, actor, singer and author Bob Hope once said, “When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things give off the greatest glow of happiness.” This is true for most of us — the best Christmas memories are made up of the “simple” things in life.
In fact, if you make a simple survey of your family members and friends, they’ll probably share favorite childhood memories of spending Christmas with loved ones, and of family traditions that have stood the test of time. Most likely, the focus will be on meaningful moments, not on gifts or other material things.
The beauty of recalling past Christmases is that we get to remember what is truly important to us — just like these parents, who share their favorite Christmas memories, and what they hope to pass on to their own children:
“My favorite Christmas memory as a kid was cozying up with my family watching those classic clay animation movies, smelling the Media Noche feast my dad would be preparing in the kitchen, feeling the cool breeze on my skin, attending Christmas Mass, and opening gifts right after.
“What I hope to pass on to my daughter is that the holiday season is always about LOVE — within the family and with the less fortunate — and not so much about the commercial trappings all around us.” — Maricel Cua, co-founder of The Parenting Emporium, mom to Lia, 10
“It has been a family tradition that we wrap gifts together — Mama cutting the gift wrappers, Papa writing on the gift tags, me cutting scotch tape (we didn't have a tape dispenser then), and my brothers putting the wrapped gifts under our Christmas tree. Now, I am also involving my son in this activity; he writes on the gift tags. He loves our Christmas gift-wrapping activity and always looks forward to it every year.” — Donna Donor, events director, mom to Kib, 9
“My favorite childhood Christmas memory is of shopping for matching clothes with my parents, which would signal to me that Christmas Day was fast approaching. We would hear Mass as a family, wait until 12 midnight to eat our Noche Buena, and finally open our gifts. I also remember writing letters to Santa Claus and getting giddy when I would receive what I wished for. As a mom of two boys, I’m happy that I’ve passed on these joyful Christmas traditions to them, which they look forward to every year.” — Louise Fandiño-Santos, mom to Dandre, 12, Wes, 5, plus one on the way
“My memory of Christmas will always be the excitement of wrapping gifts and preparing a fun-filled party for our staff and their kids in our home in Mandaluyong. I grew up in a family that ran several businesses starting in the 1970s.
“One of our annual traditions was preparing a huge buffet for everyone to share in. My four sisters and I would come up with games and fun activities for our Christmas Eve parties. This was our way of sharing good vibes and expressing our gratitude for the staff’s loyalty and love for our family. I'm happy to say that the tradition still continues to this day.” — Celia Alamo-Jacob, entrepreneur, mother to River Strauss, 20, and Hailey Summer, 7
“I definitely have a handful of great Christmas memories as a child but my most favorite is the one when my siblings and I prepare for a Christmas dance number. It's been a yearly tradition and I'd like to pass this on to my kids.” — Jill Mae Padlan-Alcoreza, program director, mom to Alexa, 6, and Sabin, 2
“My fondest memories of Christmas are being with my parents, sister and brother as we’d go around the Metro visiting our godparents (my dad's idea). As we visited each home, we would give them presents, and in return, we would be served refreshments. If you were a child, you'd be lucky to receive a gift either in the form of monetary blessings or a present — even if the person you were visiting wasn't your godparent.
“What I want to impart to my kids is that Christmas is a season for families to get together, not just for gift-giving, but a time to get closer to one another and thank Christ for all the blessings that were received the whole year through — because Christmas does not only happen once a year, but every day of our lives.” — Emily Tan Cal, home-based transcriptionist, mom to Pierre, 25, Willi-Ann, 22, and Erin, 9
“My fondest Christmas memories consist of waking up to the smell of hot chocolate, together with puto bumbong, bibingka, hamon, queso de bola and my favorite fruit salad! Also, my father’s habit of blasting Christmas songs loudly on our record player, the smell of my new shoes and clothes, and most importantly a day free of ‘no’s’! You could be an absolutely happy kid, because the adults would be extra nice and happy too.
“I would like to pass on the tradition of Noche Buena with traditional Filipino food on our table to my kids, and of course, the gift-giving by the eldest family member (sans any Santa Claus looks).” — Nelle Tubog Gillesania, work-at-home mom, e-teacher, baker, mom to Migz, 6, and Liam, 2
“My fave Christmas memory is of Christmas Eve dinner and games with my relatives when I was a child. Those evenings were full of loud laughter, dancing and music because there were so many of us! I miss my cousins. Most of them have migrated. Christmas Eve is still fun for me today, even if it's more intimate and a little quieter.
“What I hope to pass on to my son is the magic of the holiday season — the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus, freshly baked cookies with hot chocolate, singing Christmas carols together. It's a joyful season and I'd like for him to revel in it the way I did when I was a child.” — Toni Tiu, 38, training director & senior planner, mom to Timmy, 6
“Our favorite Christmas memories as kids was praying the Advent prayers every night, lighting the candles on the wreath as we did so. We say those prayers to this day, but with my parents leading it for the families — my brothers' and mine — during our Sunday family gatherings. Then on Christmas Eve, we would also read The Night Before Christmas with our Papa, who did all the voices. We'd read it even after we discovered Santa was Mommy, ha, ha!" “For my own kids, I want to pass down the Advent habit, the countdown to Christmas, and as they get older, teach them about the historical facts of the real Christmas, which we in our family always found interesting.” — Martine de Luna, social media consultant & writer at makeitblissful.com, mom to Vito, 6, and Krista, 10 months
“My most favorite Christmas memory is caroling with my brothers, neighbors and cousins. We would go around the entire compound where we lived in Davao and even the nearby village to sing songs of cheer! I remember holding rocks as our musical instruments and we would all jump for joy if we received one peso after singing four songs.
“Christmas songs bring so many memories of love, peace and joy. That’s why I want my children to experience singing Christmas carols and sharing Christmas cheer to others! I want them to realize that the best gifts we can give this season are not expensive gifts but gifts from the heart like songs and love.
“This year we are singing some Christmas carols for old priests in the Infirmary of the Jesuit Residences in Ateneo. Surely the old priests will be happy and delighted. And our children will experience extreme joy in sharing their gifts of music.” — Michelle S. Llaban, real estate broker, mom to Sev, 8, Kaitlyn, 5, and Max, 3
“My fondest memories of Christmas with my family were our times together preparing Christmas dishes, going to Mass and then eating Noche Buena together. It's nothing fancy but the memory of being together as a family on this special occasion is what mattered most to me even as a child.
“These are the same things that I try to pass on to my children. Although they are not yet able to help me cook since they are still very young, we all go to Mass as a family on Christmas Eve and eat Noche Buena afterwards.” — Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag, author, career coach and counselor, entrepreneur and mom to three boys ages, 7, 4 and 1
Now, it’s YOUR turn — share YOUR favorite Christmas memories as a child with us, and let us know what Christmas traditions and activities you would like to pass on to your kids! Just leave a comment below!