Secrets to a Merry Christmas

Photo by Andreea Radu on Unsplash

Some secrets are too good not to share. For this reason, we are grateful to Mrs. Marie Bonifacio and CSM for allowing us to reprint this article. Originally titled “When It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas”, this article first appeared in 2016 in the author’s blog series which was featured in her husband’s website, Her blog series has since been published into a devotional book, Secrets My Father Told Me (CSM, 2017), now available in bookstores nationwide.

Fill in the blank: “Only ___ more days till Christmas!”

What? It’s December already? It’s enough to make the OC in me to panic.
Gifts to buy! Things to do! Plans to make! Family reunions! Food to order! People to host! Places to go! Bills to pay! Ay, caramba!

For the first time in forever, I am UNPREPARED.
No gift yet bought. No Christmas decor except one tiny wooden tree that’s sitting on my bare dining table. And it is already December 1 as I write.

I am, by habit, very OC about Christmas. I love the holidays, the gatherings, advent nights and all the preparations that go with it.

So does Joey. My dear hubby loves trimming the Christmas tree.

No make that He loooooooves decorating our Christmas tree.

This is Joey’s ritual for the past one million years: he will play Christmas carols, turn on the a/c full blast (winter effect in our tropical country), light our Christmas scented candles (cinnamon or peppermint effect), unwrap the ornaments one by one, and get teary-eyed as certain ornaments remind him of memories of our growing family through the years.

He plans which ornament goes on the tree, and which ones go on the garlands.
Then he will take each little item and hang them carefully in his chosen spot.

Yes Virginia, underneath the strong, leader surface, my hubby is a sentimental Christmas bear on the inside.

Tree-trimming night for the Bonis is really watching Papa Joey trim the tree and get teary-eyed until midnight, as the rest of us gather around him, read our huge collection of Christmas books, twist tinsel around each other and basically just goof around as a family.

But today, our Manila tree is still bare, the Christmas books still stored. We don’t return to Manila until the 18th. And God is showing me a different side of Christmas in another part of the world.

One quiet night, Joey and I had a very un-Christmassy dinner of scrambled eggs and hotdogs, beside our tiny wooden tree. Then he washed the plates, while I played Christmas carols on Spotify. Then we sat on our sofa in silence, and watched the city lights from our window.

Silent night. Holy night.

Sometimes, we feel it’s not Christmas unless:

  • we’ve bought our Christmas outfits (preferably red),
  • our home is all decorated
  • all gifts have been bought and wrapped
  • we received gifts, too
  • family picture has been taken
  • all loved ones are gathered and complete
  • turkey/ham/ family secret recipe served
  • Santa Claus comes to town.

But the first Christmas had none of that. Joseph and Mary had:

  • no family, or relatives with them
  • no fancy decor
  • no food
  • no special place
  • no room at the inn
  • no Santa.

 But there was Jesus.



Christmas is complete when Jesus is present, and a meaningless event when Jesus is absent.

The good news is not that you’ve completed your Christmas shopping. The good news is you have a SAVIOR.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  (Lk. 2:9-11 NASB)



Christmas is an invitation to “Come as you are” to God’s presence.

 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  (Lk. 2:15-16 NASB)

 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw
His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  (Mt. 2:2 NASB)



Christmas is you receiving Jesus as the ultimate gift of all.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (Jas. 1:17NASB)

Interesting how Joseph and Mary had no camera, no GoPro or Instagram, to record their special event, yet the world world could still picture that scene to this day: Joseph and Mary leaning over the baby Jesus, angels singing, shepherds and Magi kneeling.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come!

So dear reader, I don’t know what kind of Christmas you’re having this year. Maybe it’s filled with a flurry of activities, maybe it’s quiet like ours so far, but remember to CELEBRATE.

Celebrate, because you have Jesus.
Celebrate, because He gives you hope instead of fear.
Celebrate, because He invites you to come to Him, just as you are.
Most of all, He came to give you the best Christmas present of all.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16 NASB)

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