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The Christmas Rush with Tina Lagdameo

Tina Lagdameo unabashedly describes herself as a Christmas person. She has fond memories of being a child, rehearsing for Christmas programs, and having Christmas breakfast, lunch, and dinner with different families from her father’s and mother’s sides. “I remember always entering my lola’s and my lolo’s living room, and the entire place would be full of presents—from floor to ceiling—for everybody. And after the Christmas program, all the cousins would go around and start distributing the gifts to everyone. There was this one time when my cousin—he was two or three years old then and being a typical bugoy—he interchanged the Christmas tags. So my boy cousin got a handbag from my lola,” she laughs. “It was always fun. I always looked forward to Christmas.”

Today, Lagdameo admits that celebrating the holidays have become harder. She and her husband refer to December 25 as the race around the world, as they shuffle between immediate families, relatives, and in-laws. “Honestly, I wish I could split myself into two,” she admits. Having a system certainly helps her manage the rush. Lagdameo has an Excel sheet that she refers to, containing names and respective presents. It’s a file she’s had for several years, and each year she just adds and removes from it. “I like to shop all year round. I don’t rush. I really think about the presents. If I see something in November that I know is going to be good for someone, or if there’s a sale, I buy already so I don’t cram.” Come December, all her presents are wrapped and ready for distribution. 

Still, going through all the Christmas parties can be overwhelming. So when December 26 finally rolls around, all Lagdameo and her husband want to do is sleep and recover from the countless family reunions. Due to the overwhelming number of extended families who take up the holiday calendar, Lagdameo admits that she, her husband, and two kids have yet to have their own Christmas celebrations. “What we try and do is have a Christmas breakfast—not exactly on Christmas day, but maybe on the 23rd or 26th where it’s just the four of us together.”

Lagdameo credits her mother as the original Christmas person. “She knows where all of these Christmas stores are, and I just get from her or my mother-in-law if I need to,” she shares. Whenever her mother switches up her decor and changes her theme, excess ornaments find their way to the Lagdameo abode, making it infinitely easier and cheaper to decorate for the season. Particularly special to Lagdameo is a collection of Santa Claus figurines that show the evolution of his costume through the years. “It’s interesting, and it’s also a piece of history,” she says.

Lagdameo also relishes the wrapping of presents. She plans her theme each year, from what wrapping paper to use, down to the ribbons and the Christmas cards. “It’s fun. As a kid I always used to wrap Christmas presents with my mom. Now I’ve started teaching my daughter, to make it a tradition. It’s a nice little bonding activity.”

Beyond the flurry and bustle, Lagdameo always makes it a point to remember that Christmas is first and foremost about the birth of Jesus. “A lot of people forget that. It’s a celebration of His life and gift to us. So you celebrate that by showing everyone how much they mean to you. You give them presents, remember to say thank you, and reinforce how much you love them.”