These Inspiring Women Share The New Ways Of Spending Yuletide Season

As the pandemic persists, how will Christmas look like this year?

As much as we want to continue our Christmas traditions, the pandemic has inevitably changed the ways we spend the season. Ideally, there are no longer social gatherings and traveling to witness magnificent events overseas like light shows and unique Christmas markets. For the social set, this year will definitely be a quiet celebration. We speak with Linda Ley, Alelee Andanar, Digzy Umali, and Marilen Roa Nuñez about their plans for celebrating Christmas amid the pandemic. From spending it with immediate family to giving back to communities, get to know how they will spend the season, together with valuable insights they learned this year.

The Ley family. Left to right: Victor, Mark, Linda, Michael, and Adrienne.
The bold and beautiful shade of red was the focal point of the Ley family’s Christmas dinner. (Photo was taken in 2019)

Linda Ley

“In the interest of everyone’s safety, we are not hosting any Christmas parties at our home for the first time in years,” says Linda, who is known for the most marvelous social affairs. With a fondness for decorating with vibrant colors that expresses her radiant attitude, it is easy to feel lively during her intimate gatherings. However, the pandemic canceled any plans of having parties. Their only Christmas celebration will be her family and her household staff. “Christmas is still meaningful as long as you spend it with those near and dear to your heart,” she explains.

In the future, she plans to travel locally, “to help jumpstart our country’s tourism industry.” Many resorts have been slowly opening up and so there is a high chance next year that travel will run normally again.

The kitchen lit up with glowing miniature Christmas trees and endearing snowman figures.

For now, Linda has decorated her family’s home to draw in the spirit of holiday cheer, missing from being unable to visit stores and events. “Seeing all the stores light up and sparkle with so many whimsical decorations always makes me so happy,” she muses. Thus, she can only adorn parts of their house where they usually stay such as the living and dining areas and kitchen. Although it is not as maximalist as before, what is essential is Linda is together with her family and will be enjoying a wonderful banquet.

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The Nuñez family. Left to right: Martin Nuñez, Cong. Chicoy Alvarez (son in law), Aliyana Alvarez, Yanee Nuñez Alvarez, Adriana Alvarez, Joaquin Alvarez, Marilen Nuñez, and Rambo Nuñez. (Photo by Dyan Collo)

Marilen Roa Nuñez

Like with many other families, Marilen will only be spending time with her family. This season, she plans to celebrate Christmas with her loved ones in her daughter’s family home in Palawan. Apart from the usual Noche Buena and delightful conservations of catching up, she plans to share her blessings to those in need. Rather than sending out gifts, she will donate to Caritas Manila for the victims of the recent supertyphoon Rolly. “The donation will be in the name of who I am to send a gift to: “love,” which is the true essence of Christmas will be shared across,” she elaborates.

A beautiful, sparkling Christmas tree stands proud in the living area of Marilen’s home.

Such an inspiring commitment reflects in the way she decorates her home. “I have made it a tradition since the kids were small to put up my Christmas décor at home immediately after Halloween,” she shares. Almost two months before the special day and the spirits of joy and love is already in the air of the house. Thus, it is no surprise that celebrating Christmas in her house is equally wonderful as the years before.

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The Andanar family. Left to right: Vince, Martin, Alelee, and Alexa.

Alelee Andanar

The pandemic is a real eye-opener for everyone, and for Alelee, she gained a more profound understanding of life. “It will be a more meaningful celebration, a small gathering of thanksgiving for the lives saved, our heroes in the frontlines, and a gathering of prayer for the lives lost,” she muses. The unpredictability of the impact of the pandemic made her realize the true significance of loving and caring for others, an awareness she wants everyone to have in these times.

Alelee decorating their Christmas tree with a lovely mix of red and white ornaments.

Reflecting on the situation, Alelee plans to celebrate Christmas with her parents, siblings, and immediate family. She knows this year will be a more treasured time as their family strengthened their relationship with some of their old friends. “We wish to spend it with these old friends we now call family,” she explains. In spite of the difficulties this year, love still triumphs above all.

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The Umali family. Left to right: Alayne, Carlo, Caleb, Digzy, and Joaquin.

Digzy Umali

“Through the years, our family would usually spend Christmas abroad,” says Digzy who ponders over how they couldn’t travel to different countries this year. As the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus remains, many continue to stay indoors, even when there is a longing to celebrate outside. Despite the change in plans throughout the year, Digzy keeps an optimistic and humble attitude about everything that has been happening. She shares, [this year] has given my family the opportunity to be together, to listen, and to find comfort in one another in these uncertain times.”

Being in the company of the ones she loves and cares about the most is the most wonderful feeling, and she couldn’t have it any other way. “I especially appreciate the little moments like seeing my children around the Christmas tree or helping me wrap Christmas presents,” she adds. Her celebration may be a little quiet this year, but it is definitely heartwarming and fulfilling.

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