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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrating Christmas’


Would love to try another language to say Happy New Year.  In Tagalog we say, Manigong Bagong Taon. Whew, Christmas has come and gone and I am stuck here with so much to do, fixing things here and there, cleaning the house and getting rid of unwanted items that are no longer in use.  Just wanted to greet  2014 not just with a trimmed garden but with  lesser bits and pieces in my  cabinet. I’ll be hosting a party for a small group of friends on January 11 including two priests who are also members  of my Catholic group at Facebook where I am one of the admins.  We have decided on a potluck lunch and snacks so we could concentrate on sharing news and tidbits  about our individual journeys in life.  My co-admin and creator of the online group Fr. Louie Coronel, OP used to say, ” you can share anything under the Catholic sun except sin”. Believe me, in all these years that we’ve journeyed together, some members have become real friends. And that’s something to be thankful for, finding friends in social media and bonding with them and we’re like brothers and sisters who have found a home through our page.

How was your Christmas? It was another peaceful, joyous and happy celebration for us, just the family with Nate (my grandson) grabbing the limelight sharing what he has learned the last month since his birthday. The joys of being a grandma, more greatly felt with Nate’s generous kisses that made my day and   the celebration of Christmas a happy one for me. He is walking on his own now and beginning to touch things that his hands could reach. I told Nissa to say goodbye (in the meantime)  to small objects that  he could grab and play with. He was amazed when he discovered the knob of our CD player and turned the sound off while we were listening to some Christmas carols of old.

I made a video of our Christmas pictures at OneTrueMedia but I forgot that I can’t listen to the music that I chose as a background since my son detached the defective speakers of my PC a month ago. Anyway, I am sharing some pics I took in a photo box so as to save on my allowed limits here at WordPress.

photoboxI baked lots of chocolate chips cookies that I gave to friends and neighbors. I think there are two or three more left in the cookie jar.  I received cash gifts from the kids but one thing that I really love is one of the additional gifts from Nissa, a lovely infusion bottle which I could use later. Kev brought a bottle of Novellino red wine.

photobox2Christmas was a simple celebration but it was one of the best ever. What about you, how did you celebrate  Christmas? And before I forget, let me greet you Bonne année  . Let 2014 be a happy, peaceful and a fruitful year for all of us.

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Hmm…I think it’s more than that.  My Don Manuel plant lost its leaves and eventually died more  than a month ago, but  I didn’t think of replacing it with a new one. I thought it would be perfect as a Christmas tree for my small garden. And since I am into recycling old decor, there won’t be a problem with using the small ones in decorating it. I just bought some garlands and more small bells for a song when we had our twice a month marketing this morning. It’s crude I know but I love it. I even thought of spraying the trunk of gold paint but eventually abandoned the idea.

And I love the background…..clouds. they are my favorite subjects in photography. And that lamp-post you see has its own attached lantern in a shape of a bell, our whole street have this uniform decor.

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We normally put up Christmas decorations at the end of November each year but since my artistic daughter is not around to help, I persuaded my son to bring down some of those decorations we have accumulated over the years. Every year, we buy something new, a trinket here and there, new colors of Christmas balls depending on the color theme that we want to achieve. This time though, I want to recycle some decor that we seldom use. My morning was filled with memories of Christmas past.

Yesterday, I found these lovely wooden carts made of bamboo and rattan and I thought they would be perfect for those old decorations we have. There’s nothing like giving a new face to old things :)

Does it look like it was recycled? Except for the wooden cart, everything is old.

We have these flowers two years ago when we decided to have the old green and red motif for our Christmas tree.

It’s all red. I wonder where the other decor got to. I could not even find Christmas lights.

And this is an old jar which I used for  candies at Christmas time. I am giving it a new look too.

The final touch of that small vase I had earlier. I think it deserves a place along with my other Christmas decorations.

This is an all time favorite decor – a musical waterglobe with revolving outer globe by Kirkland, a regular fixture during Christmas for the last ten years or so.

Just a friendly tip, don’t throw away the original boxes of your Christmas decorations, they are easier to organize and keep after the holidays are gone. Even those nice shoe boxes and plastic biscuit tins come in handy for those small and delicate decor. Label the boxes for easy storing and identification.

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Every year, ABS CBN, one of the largest TV network in the country comes up with a Christmas station ID that we always look forward to. It signals the start of  a long, long Christmas celebration in the Philippines. It’s  the timeless Parol. Kris says, you can actually buy one at Kultura for the price of P1,800.oo  and a part of it goes to the charity institutions which ABS CBN helps.  I love the message it conveys. Maliwanag ang mundo natin pag bukal sa loob ang pagtutulungan.

(this video remains the property of ABS CBN).

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I just feel a bit weird just thinking, where has September gone? I used to say goodbye for each month that passes and greet the new month with so much hope and wonder. But when September comes to a close, I am excited that October would show its face again, for the simple reason that it’s my birth month. I am not exactly looking forward to another year of getting older,  it’s more like I am excited about our coming baby. I only have one wish this time, I am praying that baby Nate would have the same birthday as I have.  What a lovely celebration it would be if that happens.

September

I’ll always remember this month as the start of the Christmas season here in the Philippines. Through the years when September comes, you’ll always hear Christmas songs on the radio being played the whole month of September. And I was surprised when I saw Christmas trees on display at National Bookstore this early. And they are not in the traditional color  of green, they come in shocking shades of purple, silver and gold. I was wondering, what color of decor would you combine with a deep shade of violet? Would it match the beauty of the Christmas colors of red, green and gold? I think I’ll forego putting up the Christmas tree this time. I want to have a nativity crèche instead. I am inspired about the story of how the Christmas crèche came to be.

      The history of the Christmas crèche in art and literature is a story in of itself, but the real turning point was St. Francis of Assisi’s inspiration. For the Saint, Christmas had always been the Feast of Feasts, yet he did not think it had been celebrated as it could have been, The poverty of Christ had become lost in the extravagance of the Christmas festivities An idea occurred to him and while on a visit to Rome, he received permission from the Pontiff to put his idea to work.

       The story of how St. Francis of Assisi “invented” the crib is so delightful and inspiring that it might be told or read to the children every year. We give here the account in the very words of Brother Thomas de Celano, who was there when it happened and who wrote it down:

             Blessed Francis called a friend about two weeks before Christmas and said to him: ‘If you desire that we should celebrate this year’s Christmas together at Greccio, go quickly and prepare what I tell you; for I want to enact the memory of the Infant Who was born at Bethlehem, and how He was deprived of all the comforts babies enjoy; how He was bedded in a manger on hay, between an ass and an ox. For once I want to see all this with my own eyes.’ When the good and faithful man had heard this, he departed quickly and prepared in the above-mentioned place everything that the Saint had told him.

            The joyful day approached. The Franciscans were called from many communities. The men and women of the neighborhood, as best they could, prepared candles and torches to brighten the night. Finally the Saint of God arrived, found everything prepared, saw it and rejoiced. The crib was made ready, hay was brought, the ox and ass were led to the spot and Greccio became a new Bethlehem. The night was radiant with joy. The crowds drew near and rejoiced in the novelty of the celebration. Their voices resounded from the woods, and the rocky cliff echoed the jubilant outburst. As they sang in the praise of God, the whole night rang with exultation. The Saint of God stood before the crib, overcome with devotion and wondrous joy. A solemn Mass was sung at the crib.

              The Saint dressed in deacon’s vestments, for a deacon he was [out of humility, St. Francis never became a priest, remaining a deacon all his life]. He sang the Gospel. Then he preached a delightful sermon to the people who stood around him, speaking about the nativity of the poor King and the humble town of Bethlehem. (source: catholictradition.org)

I would love to share this story with baby Nate when he is old enough to understand why we celebrate Christmas. And how lovely and significant it is that we remember the Christ Child who is the reason for celebrating the season. Let it not be cloaked in grandeur but let it be as simple as the child in the manger.

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And before you think I got my wires crossed,  I am just happy that the BER months are finally here. Actually this is my first  Christmas post for this year.

I’ve heard Christmas songs over the radio the past days.  And goodness, they have started counting down the days till Christmas. I always tell myself, I’ll start counting after my birthday. Right now, I am supposed to be writing about my speech this coming month but the lure of blogging is more attractive. I was asked to speak before the Dominican community (Order of Preachers) this coming October in their first social media summit. I’ll call it my thirty minutes of fame, so please wish me luck.

It’s my son’s  day-off and both of us went to the supermarket  to do our monthly groceries. He always laugh when he sees me chatting with the bagger and the cashier while waiting in line  at the counter. They were playing Christmas songs  so I asked, “Why do you think  every time a Christmas carol is played, there’s a mixed feeling of sadness and joy?” They both smiled at me and one of them said, “kasi Ma’am magastos ang pasko.” “Tuwing Pasko”, he added, “di ko alam paano pagkakasiyahin ang bonus ko.”  It’s sad but true. Christmas has become synonymous with extra expenses, buying gifts that sometimes one can’t afford, shopping galore and many more. Blame that on the commercialism of the season.  Sometimes,  in the frenzy of the season, we forget why we are celebrating so I told them that you can celebrate it without all the fanfare. Try attending the novena masses and that in itself is a fulfillment of a lovely Christmas celebration. They both looked at me and smiled.  One of them said, that in her entire life, she completed the nine-day novena only once.  “Salamat Ma’am”, they chorused.   And yes, sharing love with others may yet be the best Christmas gift you can give, all year round without waiting  to hear  Christmas carols of old. Christ is Christmas.

Christmas celebration for us would be a lot more different definitely because, come November, I’ll be having my first grandson. He’ll be the most welcome gift the family will have.

This is one of my best-loved Christmas songs and I am quoting it here in its entirety.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the  sea,
With a voice as big as  the  sea.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold–
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”

 

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I sincerely wish you all  A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY 2012! And I like to share this Christmas Prayer written by Fra Giovanni 1n 1513. Since I’ve read it in one of the articles of Fr. Joseph Galdon, a Jesuit priest who was  the author of the book Jubilee, I have always been moved by the simple message of hope for every one of us.  My book is gone  and Fr. Galdon died last year but the essence  of this lovely prayer remains. It is not just for Christmas but a timeless message  that today seems more relevant than ever.

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

I am your friend and my love for you goes very deep.  There is nothing really that I can give you this Christmas that you do not already have.  But there is much, very much that you can discover for yourself this Christmas, even if I am not the one to give it to you.  So I pray that you will find peace, which is in the hidden places around us today. The gloom of our world is really only a shadow.  Beyond that gloom, yet still within our reach, is happiness. I pray that you will discover happiness in your heart this year.  There is light and glory in the darkness around us, if we only could see it.  To see the light in the darkness we only have to look. I pray that you will look for the light this Christmas.  Life is actually a very generous giver, but because we judge the gifts by their covering, we cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard.  Remove the covering from the gifts of life and you will find beneath it a living splendor that is woven of love.  Life is full of meaning and purpose. It is full of beauty beneath the covering. I pray that this Christmas you will discover that earth is only a cloak for heaven.  This Christmas, I send you greetings. They are not exactly the kind of greetings that the world sends.  But I send them to you with great love and with a prayer that, for you and for all those you love, this Christmas and forever, the dawn will break and the shadows of night will flee away.

May your 2012 be a year of pleasant journeys, a year of peace and  a time to discover new beginnings, a time to realize new dreams. HAPPY, HAPPY 2012.

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I really hope it was a blessed, peaceful and a happy celebration for you and your family. It was a quiet celebration for us, attending the Christmas Eve mass at our village chapel and the Christmas Day mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish where I received a personal blessing from one of my favorite priests, Fr. Matthew Fernandez of the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross.

For the first time in so many years, we got to celebrate Noche Buena quietly and I mean, no fanfare not much food on the table except for hot drinks  and fried chicken which I laboriously cooked on a charcoal stove after attending the Holy Mass at 7:30pm, an almost two-hour celebration presided by our Parish priest.  For the first time too, our LPG lasted for seven weeks when we changed our gas dealer last month. Unluckily though, it conked out on me when I was about to cook for Noche Buena last Christmas Eve. Of all things that has to happen, it has to be that!  I had previously cooked Embutido and Callos but they were frozen on the ref and reheating them  on the microwave was such a waste of time. My son suggested that we just listen to Christmas carols while waiting for 12 midnight. It’s our usual tradition over the years to attend the Christmas Eve mass together,  prepare Noche Buena meals then open our gifts afterward. It has always been a happy occasion but Nissa was not around to share the fun with us. They only came for Christmas dinner yesterday afternoon so we opened our gifts late and just enjoyed the quiet evening.  It was a completely different scene and  it was so peaceful and quiet.

Christmas morning found us attending the 9am mass then a marathon cooking for lunch and dinner.  Although it was fun giving Mom, son and hubby their own tasks to do, it was a bit tiring for me.  I told hubby  that I’ve done this for 29 years now, doing the cooking all year round. Can someone volunteer for a change and do their thing in the kitchen? :) :) :) Anyway, Christmas won’t be what it is for us without laboring on the stove. We don’t go out much during Christmas day because sometimes, we  have visitors at home, relatives and friends who come to visit. There were times though in the past when we had Christmas lunch outside then later watched a movie. Usually, during Christmas day, all movies are in Tagalog because of the film festival.  I want to watch Segunda Mano but Mom says she does not want to watch horror movies. Gosh, I miss watching Tagalog movies, it’s been years since I did.  And I love horror movies.  Oh well, I wish Nissa is around to accompany me. I miss the girl-bonding.

I was reading the Pope’s Christmas Eve homily and I quote: Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.

It’s so true, sometimes we forget why we are celebrating and whom we are celebrating for.

 

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Happy Birthday Jesus, You are the reason for this celebration!

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Yes, I am definitely counting since tonight is the start of Simbang Gabi, make that 4am or 4:30 am for Misa de Gallo tomorrow. And since I don’t always wake up that early, I usually attend the advance Simbang Gabi masses at the nearby parish.  The 9-day novena is something I always look forward to every year, it’s part our yearly tradition during the Christmas season.

Except for our Christmas tree which we didn’t put up this year because hubby is not around,  we have put up some favorite Christmas decor and the house smells of lemon wax and newly ironed curtains .These kept me occupied the whole morning.  It’s a back-breaking job, cleaning and changing sheets and ironing but it’s part of the preparation for Christmas. I always say, without sounding too preachy that this is a special event that we always  look forward to – the coming of Jesus. And it is not only  through wrapping gifts, cooking lavish and favorite food, attending family reunions, completing the Simbang Gabi masses that make Christmas what it is, we should also prepare ourselves  with a clean and loving heart.

One of the personalities that I so love blogging about is Lucy Torres. I don’t get to watch her often on TV since I am not your regular TV enthusiast but I get a thrill  every time I see her lovely face on TV. She and her husband Richard were Kris’ guests this morning on KrisTV. I love her simplicity, the way she expresses herself in front of the camera, the way she writes (I do miss her column at Phil. Star) about life and about her family and the things she loves to do like crafting.  She says that wrapping gifts is one of her ways of unwinding and relaxing  and dancing of course. And she and her daughter also make bookmarks.  I love making bookmarks too and sometimes I buy them in bulk and embellish them with shells, beads or silk flowers. And when I give books to friends, there is always a bookmark enclosed.

And that reminds me,  it’s about time I wrap the remaining gifts which I bought a few days ago. A friend once asked me why I bother having boxes and ribbons and nice wrapping paper for gifts to friends and family. Like Lucy, I enjoy tinkering with things like old Christmas decorations that I  could incorporate into the box.

OC, you might say but that’s the way it is for me. My daughter invested in some art and craft kits like stamp pads, cutter, craft scissors, linen  papers, silk flowers and designs, you name it, she has a whole cabinet full of craft materials. And now she is into bead works making bracelets, earrings and rosaries too.

I do have  more than a dozen chain rosaries which I made earlier as  gifts to friends this Christmas. And do you know that doing crafts is a nice  way of bonding with your family? Even my son makes rosaries which he sells in their office.

It’s ten days to go before Christmas, are you done with your Christmas shopping?

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