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Celebrate Responsibly

It’s going to be a different holiday season this year.


Countries around the world are grappling with a dilemma of whether to relax pandemic restrictions to allow people to celebrate the holidays. On one hand, there is fear that relaxing restrictions would cause a spike in coronavirus cases. In the US for instance, the coronavirus cases are already raging with daily cases topping 168,000.


On the other hand, allowing families to celebrate Christmas together is seen to uplift the spirit of our people, boost morale after a year that saw our people endure a volcanic eruption, a pandemic, and more recently a string of typhoons.


But there is always a middle ground. Sometimes the right decision is located right in the middle of two extreme options. We can allow people to celebrate for as long as we strictly adhere to health protocols. In other words, celebrate responsibly.


The pandemic should not prevent us from having a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It should definitely not prevent us from having a meaningful celebration of the holidays.


Just like everything else this year, we can resume certain activities while adhering to safety and health protocols. Wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding the instinctive touching of our faces. This should be second nature to us by now.


Just like many of you, I find myself frequently using alcohol after I touch a surface or an object. I try to avoid going out as much as possible. And when I do go out I take an abundance of caution. My wife and I would sometimes sit down and get our dose of caffeine from Coffee Project but we would ensure that we go during non-peak hours to avoid crowded places.


I think that for this year’s holiday season we should not focus on what we cannot do but rather on what we can do to have a meaningful Christmas. For one, we can still decorate our houses with festive and cheerful decors. I hope that those who can decorate the outside of their homes with bright lights and other Christmas ornaments so that others can enjoy the sight too.


There is no reason why we should not have gift-giving this year. Many stores and malls have online platforms. In our case, Vista Mall has launched a personal shopping service called Shop Buddy which allows customers to view available items through the official Facebook page of their mall of choice, place orders through a hotline, pay electronically, and have them delivered safely by our partner, Get All delivery service.


For AllHome, we’ve developed a convenient website where customers can enjoy online shopping via https://allhomeclick.com. Just choose, add to cart and pay via PayPal or credit/debit cards. We’ve made it easy for people to prepare their noche buena and media noche feasts via the Personal Shopper Service of AllDay Supermarket.


With many of our activities migrating to an online platform, we also have the AllEasy app that allows you to have a seamless, contactless, and efficient way to do financial transactions such as paying bills, paying via QR code, pay on delivery, RFID loading, and many more.


If your family decides not to celebrate physically, you can always have a great virtual holiday get-together. My alma mater for instance is doing a ZoomComing this December instead of the usual Homecoming event at the University of the Philippines. Use Zoom and other online platforms to do your usual family traditions whether you sing carols together, pray together, even eating noche buena “together.”


But if your family decides to have an in-person gathering make sure you follow health protocols and the guidelines set by national and local governments. Even if you are all in one familiar house with familiar people, continue to practice safety precautions.


Or for some, instead of a Christmas feast, we could share some of our blessings with those who have been victimized by recent typhoons or those who, because of extreme poverty, will definitely have no feast to celebrate. This is a way to make our Christmas really meaningful.


The coronavirus has definitely disrupted our lives. It has upended our plans for this year. But we should not allow it to stop us from having a meaningful Christmas.



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar