US basketball

The true meaning of Christmas

Tanya Lim
What is the true meaning of Christmas? Give back, forgive, love, inspire, choose to be genuinely happy this season

GIVE THANKS. Matangtubig children praying. All photos by Tanya Lim

MANILA, Philippines – Christmas means different things for different people. Most people think of gifts, shopping, late night celebrations, huge lighted lanterns, decorating trees and lots of food and alcohol. This year I want to search for the true meaning of Christmas – that warm, tingly feeling in your gut that makes you smile with genuine joy.

Here are some suggestions that I’ve tried throughout the years that helped give meaning to my existence. What works for me may not work for you, however. We all find happiness in different things. This list I made includes some of the experiences that made me believe that the true meaning of Christmas cannot be found in material things but in making other people genuinely happy.

Visit the amazing and special kids of the Chosen Children Village

The Chosen Children Village (CCV) is a beautiful home for children with special disabilities that need careful attention. CCV is a haven for children suffering from conditions that sometimes leave them bed-ridden and wheel chair-bound. The village helps these children live a semblance of life. They are given chores and are taught how to see hope in any situation. The children love to perform. Invite your friends or co-workers and coordinate with the CCV staff. The kids will serenade you with Christmas songs and inspire you to be content with your life as they go through theirs with disadvantages. For more details, please go to

CHOSEN CHILDREN. Adopted children come back to visit

Throw a Christmas party for orphans and underprivileged children

For the past 17 years I’ve been taking care of underprivileged children that live in Malabon, Navotas and Matangtubig in Quezon City. I partnered with Salt of the Earth Foundation in Malabon and Glorious Church of Christ in Matangtubig. The goal is to provide the children with a prize for their perfect attendance during Sunday Catechism classes. If they attend consistently, they are chosen to attend the party. During the Christmas Party, they forget about their hardships, their problems and challenges and get to focus on being children and having fun. We provide them with a program that includes games, prizes, and mascots dancing and of course food and drinks. Even just for one day, these children are given hope that life is not always painful. There are times that they can be happy too. I’m proud to share that the children I started with 17 years ago are now the same young adults who take care of the children in need today. Christmas is always extra special when I see all the children happy.

Feed the Yolanda evacuees at Villamor Airbase

With the recent tragedy brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and all the death and misery that followed its wake, a good way to celebrate your Christmas Party is to visit the survivors at the Villamor Airbase. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been spearheading relief operations and evacuation efforts at the grandstand of Villamor Airbase. I’ve personally seen how efficient operations are and that hot meals are needed daily to greet the thousand of evacuees arriving.

Please register your donations with a DSWD representative. It is crucial that you schedule the meals as sometimes people just show up with thousands of packed meals only to find out that the allocation for meals during that day are already taken cared off, or even worse, the evacuees have eaten already. You may coordinate your donations with DSWD Food Committee Representative Ms. Melissa De Mesa at 0932-8625039.

CHRISTMAS FEAST. Feeding thousands of evacuees at the Villamor Airbase

Your trash might be someone’s treasure

Are you low on budget and short on time? Go through your old clothes, toys, personal care items and other essential things needed to survive. I’m sure you have shampoo bottles and soaps kept from hotels that haven’t been used that will help someone get a decent bath. Just please make sure the clothes are still good and wearable and the toys won’t cause choking or the children to hurt themselves. Think of your own family member or loved one receiving that gift, that will help guide you through rummaging for donations in your room. You can bring your items to the DSWD “ukay-ukay” tent at the Villamor Airbase. Evacuees go there to change clothing and “shop for free” for things that they need. They also get to bring home clothes, shoes, personal care items and other relief goods to help them survive for the next few months.

Shop for a cause

There are so many places that are now donating their sales to Yolanda survivors. Make your shopping and your gifts more meaningful. Aside from your loved one receiving a very thoughtful gift, a survivor is also receiving part of that gift.

Show appreciation

No need to go far to find the true meaning of Christmas. Show appreciation to those that help you at home. Every year we take time to bring our helpers out for Christmas dinner and a movie or a massage. This is the time we can appreciate how they take care of us. Invite their families over. Get to know their loved ones too and make their Christmas more memorable. Give them tokens or groceries that can be prepared for Noche Buena in their homes or provinces. Grocery items can include simple ingredients for spaghetti with meat sauce, fruit salad, and add some ham – to make the Christmas Eve dinner extra special for them.


It is the end of the year. Let go of all the anger, hatred and pain. Forgive. That is the best thing you can give yourself this Christmas. All that resentment inside will start to affect you physically; it makes you sick, it stresses you out and in the long run gives you wrinkles. What for? My mom always taught me to let go, forgive and forget. Life is too short to live it angry.

Give thanks

Some people go to Simbang Gabi. Some go through the rites of Misa De Gallo or some just make sure they go to mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Everyone goes through his or her different religious rituals. Let us make sure we give thanks to the higher power for keeping us alive. Be content. Choose to be happy. Being thankful for every little thing we have is the key to finding genuine joy.

HIGHER POWER. The Chosen Children Village chapel


Inspire others to share, give back, forgive and give thanks this Christmas. Lead by example. Show the younger generation how one spark can get a fire running. Be that spark. If your children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, the younger generation in general, see how you affect change in this world, they will follow and the environment of sharing will grow.

Tell your loved ones you love them

Like I said earlier, life is too short. Keep your family close and tell them you love them every moment that you can. Try to look past their shortcomings and the little things that annoy you because you love them and learn to love every single part of them. Christmas is about family. Mend all wounds, some may be deep but trying is better than letting it grow. Heal and love – I cannot stress that enough. Aside from just telling them you love them, show them. Actions speak louder than words.

Christmas is not all parties and gifts. It is making sure those you love know, without a doubt, that you love them. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.

Hope this short article helps you find your true meaning of Christmas. –