Teos, Prietos, and Huangs Share Their Christmas Traditions and Wishes This 2019
“We always try to remind the kids what Christmas is all about: not putting up the Christmas tree and giving gifts, but commemorating the birth of Christ. And the most important thing is to make them understand its significance,” says Drs Z and Aivee Teo.
Despite the demands of their work, Z and Aivee make sure to set aside time for family, especially during Christmas season. They make it a point to get into the festive spirit by putting up décor, helping the kids [Ken-Z, 12; Kenzo, 8; Kelicia, 5] write up their wishlists, and planning the family’s next holiday trip. Each year, they go out of the country and for the past five years, Japan has been their destination of choice. 22 family members from both sides jet to the land of the rising sun and take time off to catch up with each other. But Christmas day itself is always spent in the Philippines. “We go to my mother-in-law’s place on Christmas Eve and stay until Christmas day. We stay there until four in the morning and then we come back home, and that is when my family will go to the tree and open gifts,” Z shares. After gift giving, the family hears mass, has lunch, and enjoys the rest of the day.
Recalling the family’s most memorable Christmas experience, Z shares “Five years ago, during our first trip to Japan, our kids saw snow for the first time. That was so memorable because when they came out of the plane, and they saw the snow, they were so amazed. I can still remember the looks on their faces. And when you see the kids happy, you yourself feel happier.” Christmas is certainly for and about the kids. Those cherished feelings of happiness and gratitude is exactly what they want for their children to experience and find in Christmas, which is why they are so dedicated in shaping the magic that Christmas can offer to their kids.
During the holidays, the couple chooses to disconnect from the daily grind. This year, the whole family will be going to Lapland in Finland the day after Christmas—again, somewhere with snow for the kids to enjoy.
While many enjoy changing up their Christmas décor scheme every so often, Paolo and Ria Prieto have found themselves growing more conscientious about their own practices.
“When I decorate the house, it’s always the same look every year. I try to be conscious about the things I buy because I want to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle,” Ria shares. Their family festivities do not revolve around just decorating and hanging up Christmas socks, but spending time with family all the way up to New Year. They usually go out of the country before Christmas, and on Christmas day itself, they fly back to the Philippines to meet in-laws and cousins. It is also the time of the year when they dress up to take Christmas photographs.
The day after Christmas, the family drives to the beach. For the past few years, they have been going to Tali in Nasugbu, Batangas. What they love most about Christmas is seeing their families complete, especially when their kids [Benito, 11; Balthazar, 9; Dimitri, 8] get to spend time with their cousins. Ria happily shares, “We are so blessed because they are all so close despite the age gaps, and they play together. It is so heartwarming to see the older cousins engage with my kids. The beach is usually where they teach my kids to do new things.” For her, this shows how family values are being passed on to next generation.
Seeing how happy the children get during this season of giving warms the couple’s hearts. “We’re usually so busy working, and we can get caught up in the trappings of such obligations. But when you see the joy Christmas brings your kids, you get to see what really matters most,” Ria shares. If there’s only one thing that they wish for this Christmas, it is that the kids will continue to spend time with them.
Always with family. And always in Manila. This is how Michael and Kathy Huang spend Christmas. Together with their kids Mackenzie, 9 and Kameron, 5, Kathy and Michael take the holidays as an opportunity to develop stronger bonds with family. Traditionally, they spend Christmas not just with their own nuclear family, but with extended family as well. Noche Buena is always spent with the Tantocos, Christmas lunch day with the Yaps, and Christmas dinner with the Huangs. Even when they have a family get together every weekend, Kathy finds it nice to see her kids happy together with other extended families during the holiday season. She shares, “I love the fact that we get to be with other members of the family that we don’t get to see that often. For the kids to get to know and spend time with their extended cousins, lolos and lolas, it’s nice.” She also says that Christmas is when she gets to eat whatever she wants. “And I also eat a lot, so I always love how there is so much food during Christmas time.”
Kathy and Michael have also made it part of their tradition to put up a Christmas tree and hang up stockings with each of their names every year together with the kids. Aside from this, Christmas is also the time when they give back to their staff. Each year, they throw a Christmas party with games and prizes for their staff, recognising each and every employee for the special things they do.
What is their most memorable Christmas to date? “It was Christmas of 2013. It was our first Christmas as a family of four. My son [Kameron] was only a month old at the time, my daughter was three. We spent Christmas in Manila,” recalls Kathy.
This year, the kids asked Kathy and Michael for “two more puppies and some pet birds.” But as they have too many pets already, the couple have decided on different gifts. They themselves hope for more family trips so their kids can see and explore new places, as well as learn more about the different cultures of the world.
- Photography Ramon Mangila
- Art Direction Monique Madsen