I asked one of my VAs about Christmas and New Years and the work expectations for the holidays. Here’s what she wrote.
You want my honest thoughts?
Christmas gives me anxiety.
The never ending obligations to attend one party after another. The stress of braving the crowds to buy presents. The excessive overeating that I can’t seem to avoid over the holidays.
But as bad as the pandemic is, I’m actually okay with it happening over the holidays. Because of the pandemic, I can see people slowing down and celebrating the Christmas for what it actually is, love.
I don’t have to go to parties suffering through small talk with strangers and acquaintances. I can just have a small together with the people I love.
I don’t need to buy presents for people I barely know. I’m giving my family the best gift, my time. And for friends, I’m giving them gifts that I learned to make myself during quarantine.
We don’t need a table overflowing with food to feel the magic of Christmas. The best way to do that is to show our love for our neighbors and share what we have to those in need.
Yeah, Christmas this year doesn’t have the usual sparkle and cheer. But in some ways it’s better now. It’s more meaningful.
Now, to answer your question.
How Filipinos feel about the holidays at the end of December? Then and now.
If you asked me when I was around 15 years ago (before BPOs existed in the Philippines) how I feel about the holidays, I’d say that they’re sacred. You have to be home for the holidays and spend time with them. On Dec 24, 25, Dec 31 and Jan 1. You’re hurting your family if you don’t spend the holidays with them!
But now, to be honest, my feelings have changed. Same with a lot of Filipinos.
When it was just our family members who are overseas Filipino workers who were away during the holidays, it felt imperative to spend Christmas and New Years together. It was our way of honoring those who can’t be there. And it was easier to call our OFW family members when we were all under one roof at the same time.
But now that we have other family members who also work during the holidays (call center employees), the pull of that tradition is isn’t as strong anymore. I have friends and family who have no choice but to work over the holidays. What’s more important for us now is finding time to be together rather than being together on on exactly Dec 25 or Jan 1.
I guess that’s why most Filipinos would prefer to have the week between Christmas and New Years off. So they can spend time with their loved ones who can’t be there. Doesn’t matter if you open presents on Dec 27 or do the New Year’s countdown on Jan 2. What matters we can be together in this magical season.
Her words…not mine.
(she’s so darn good!)