A Catholic priest in the Philippines is urging the public to celebrate Christmas even if they choose to make their celebrations more austere this year and do without parties in solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

“Forego Christmas party but please, celebrate Christmas. The Season of Advent is approaching and this is very important for us Catholics,” Father Benny Tuason, the director for Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila, said in a Church forum Nov. 26.

Victims of the recent typhoon in the Visayas will truly experience the real meaning of Advent and Christmas, according to the priest.

“They will experience the real advent and Christmas not in terms of gifts. Because Christmas is about Jesus, coming into your hearts,” he said.

Father Tuason further said that the real Christmas is not about commercialism but experiencing Jesus Christ.

Members of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) National Secretariat said they will forego their Christmas party and instead would donate the money to typhoon victims.

The Gift of Thanksgiving and the Advent Season

Thanksgiving is a good time to step back from the pressures of work, reflect on the course of our lives and remember that gratitude is the beginning of joy.  It’s also an opportunity to remember whom we’re thanking, and why we’re thanking him.  The holiday has vividly Christian roots, and it makes little sense without its religious origins.  Americans certainly don’t need to be Christian to enter into the spirit of the day, but Thanksgiving reminds us of a fundamentally higher reality: our dependence on a loving Creator.