Taking a Stand for Christmas

Around Manila
October 5, 2010

Ok, let’s start with the facts.  I adore Christmas.  Not just any old Christmas, but the snow-covered, sweater-wearing, eggnog-drinking, fireplace-roasting type.  Perhaps some would call that a traditional Christmas.  Call it whatever you like, that will always be what my image of Christmas looks like.

Please note: A Manila Christmas looks NOTHING like my preferred traditional Christmas (which was a painful adjustment last year).  Rest assured, I have fixed my mindset in advance and I am going to do my best to embrace Christmas here and not make myself sour again.  The problem is that they’re not making it easy on me.

Filipinos insist on beginning to celebrate Christmas as soon as the ‘ber’ months start, namely September 1st.  It’s no holds barred after that and it lasts well into February.  You do the math people, that’s nearly 6 months of Christmas.  It’s too much and I’ve got to draw the line here because it dilutes the ‘special-ness’ of the Christmas season when you make it half of the year!  Wouldn’t you agree?

I am personally insisting that Christmas not start until AT LEAST November 1st.  That I can handle.  But until then I am not open to receiving “Merry Christmas Mum” greetings or seeing Santa hats on store employees.  Let’s just focus on getting through Halloween first, ok?

So, given my firm commitment to this, you can imagine my dismay when I walked into my Dermatologist’s office yesterday and heard Christmas carols playing.  I tolerated it for about 5 minutes and then in my politest voice ever, asked if we could kindly switch the music from Christmas tunes to something else.  They stared at me like I was a baby Jesus hater and said, “You do not like Christmas tunes mum?”  Well yes, as a matter of fact I do, just not in October for the entire 2 hour duration that I’m going to be in your office for treatment.  Perhaps it was a wee bit ugly American, but I just didn’t think I could handle it…. don’t judge me, okay?

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  1. Jenn says:

    You are so hilarious. And very much allowed to shorten the season a bit. You should chat with my neighbor… he STILL has his wreath hanging over the garage. It has bugged me since February, but I guess now he can just leave it up until the next season. He’d likely be much more welcome in Manila.

  2. sarahlynn60 says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that would have driven me crazy too. GRRR…

  3. Chris says:

    I am soooooo with you on this . . . would love it if not a word or carol or decoration was brought out until after Thanksgiving – used to love that I had just about a month to fully immerse myself in the season. It was so much more meaningful when there was just this one month to squeeze everything into, shopping, parties, decorating – and most of all celebrating the season for what it is really meant to be celebrated for – which is not end of year sales figures!

  4. shannon says:

    That would make me nuts. The family rule is no Christmas carols until Thanksgiving dinner is finished. Usually I am belting out the Christmas songs as I do the turkey day dishes. If we happen to be in the states we listen to Christmas carols on the way home from my Uncles house where we eat Thanksgiving dinner.

  5. sarahlynn60 says:

    Amen sister!

  6. Hey Sarah, been reading your blog for a while now. I couldn’t help but laugh at this! As a Filipino, I admit it IS pretty funny and overly ADVANCED. I’ve gotten used to the malls taking advantage of the holiday to sell christmas stuff as early as September. Here in Jakarta though, I’m going to miss the overly enthusiastic way Filipinos celebrate Christmas this year because December is pretty quiet here! =(

  7. sarahlynn60 says:

    Interesting to hear an alternative perspective! May you get a little more and me get a little less! :) If only we could even it out…

  8. Sara says:

    I can understand your frustration. This will be our third Christmas season in this lovely country. The first one I kind of turned my nose up to the long Christmas and delayed putting up the tree just like we do in the States but this last year we joined right in with the long celebration. The tree was up before Turkey day. Christmas carols playing in the house as early as right after Halloween. Let me tell you-it did a world of wonders for brightening our spirits when the days felt glum in the big dirty city. I guess we just embraced the Filipino way of celebrating the holiday here in all it’s glory. We definitely plan on doing it again this year. In fact we can’t wait! Bring on the celebration.

  9. sarahlynn60 says:

    Usually I don’t feel so rigid about things, Christmas just happens to be quite sensitive for some reason. I have noticed as an expat, that life usually goes better when you just go with the flow. Hmmm, maybe I will have to revisit my scrooge-like attitude about this topic….

  10. Florence Elsley says:

    Hi there! I’m Filipino and I totally agree. Then again I haven’t spent Christmas in the Philippines for 15 yrs so I think I can tolerate it for 1 maybe 2 years. We’re (husband and daughter and new one one the way)moving back this November and we’re very excited about it. Christmas in the Philippines is nothing like any other I think. But I think it’s just my excitement talking. I found your blog after randomly searching for Grocery Stores in Manila and found that you love Landmark. I remember my mom and I used to shop there. It’s great and I can’t wait to see it again. That and everything else and more! I’m glad you are enjoying your stay in the Philippines! As nervous as I am going back with my own family, you made it easier for me :) Thanks! And looking forward to more blogs from you!

  11. sarahlynn60 says:

    Hi Florence- Nice to have you as a new reader! What fun to be coming back after all this time. I will be curious to know your impressions on what’s changed the most. Looking forward to hearing more comments from you! :)

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