Paying It Forward: The ‘Ber’ Months Are Here

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Sep 02 2019 08:06 AM

Can you celebrate Christmas too early?

It seems in the Philippines, you never can. I woke up Sept. 1 to messages from friends wishing our family Merry Christmas. Jose Mari Chan memes are now serenading us on social media and I have started to see Christmas decorations going up.

No wonder Overseas Filipino Workers and Pinoys who have migrated to other parts of the world always get homesick during Christmas time. I may be biased but I do not think any other country in Asia embraces Christmas quite like we do here back home.

I am no Scrooge and I like holidays but I love my bank account too – and celebrating Christmas too early can make the special day less special, plus leave a painful dent on your wallet. Before you start singing Christmas carols, here are some reasons you may want to ‘delay’ or ‘postpone’ Christmas.

Enjoy other holidays first. 

Between now and December, there is at least one more holiday that also brings Filipino families together, that is remembering relatives and friends that have gone before us. All Saints’ Day means going home to the provinces for many, and this year it is a long weekend with Nov. 1 falling on a Friday. Enjoy that with solemnity and gratitude for the loved ones we still have with us. 

Go trick or treating.

This is popular with families with young children, and many residential villages, shopping centers, country clubs, and even offices hold Halloween parties and encourage guests to come in colorful costumes. It can be hard to get into the Trick or Treat mode when you have an inflatable Santa Claus on display. Instead, think black and leave the reds and greens for another day.

Nothing sweet about traffic jams.

When you have a big family or have many social obligations from your work, you will likely get several invitations for parties and get togethers. December traffic has become so unmanageable that someone had the bright idea to start hosting the holiday parties earlier. After all, no one wants to be driving two hours to get to a party, stay for one hour, and drive back home for another two hours. So they started to move the dates to November, and when even that proved to be tough, they began looking at October. Personally, I prefer working with January. Things are quieter, people tend to be back from their vacations and are more likely to come, plus less cars on the road.

What a difference a day makes.

I’ve proven this time and again – a gift that you buy on or before Dec. 25 will cost so much more than if you bought it on Dec. 26, or Jan. 2. Post-holiday sales have become a tradition for retailers so they can move all their left-over inventory. So unless you were an early planner and did most of your Christmas shopping in July, consider shopping and distributing gifts in January instead. Now that the ‘Ber’ season is here, it’s already too late to find really good bargains.

Stress-free and pocket-friendly travel.

I would not wish this on my worst enemy: being stuck in an airport close to Boxing Day. Just getting to the airport will age you thanks to gnarling traffic. When you get to the airport, the lines at every counter are likely to be long and the chances of being bumped off are high as flights are sometimes over booked. And of course we also have to mention that you likely paid a lot more for your ticket than if you flew out after Christmas or after New Year’s Day.

* * *

I don’t intend to make you a Scrooge and by all means, celebrate Christmas when you want, for as long as you want. Just consider that there are money-smart ways to do so. Gifts given in January are remembered more, and appreciated too (because how many cakes can one enjoy before they all start to look the same or spoil). Trips made at the start of the year may cost you half and then you can spend the rest instead on meaningful tokens for family and friends.

And while it is the season of giving, your gifts do not always have to come in a gaily-wrapped box. Your time and affection matter just as much. In this growing materialistic times, we need to remember that being remembered is good enough, because it is the thought that counts.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.