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Archive for the ‘Christmas 2014’ Category


When you’ve got nowhere to go – walk

Having a place to go is a home

Having someone to love is family

Having both is a true blessing.

– richard paul evans

That group shot is a bit grainy. We asked Nate's yaya to take our family photo. Christmas Eve 2014

That group shot is a bit grainy. We asked Nate’s yaya to take our family photo. Christmas Eve 2014

 

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“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
–Kahlil Gibran

Please indulge me. I promise I won’t be talking about Christmas anymore until next year.  Where was I? Ah, the beauty of seeing Christmas in the eyes of my two-year old grandson Nate. I think he is old enough now not just to make his eyes wonder at the tinsel hanging on a tree or and the nativity set he kept pointing at because we told him Baby Jesus was born today. In his excited voice, he greeted my brother and a close friend a Merry Christmas via Viber and they said that just hearing his voice was enough to make them smile and remember the significance of this happy season in our lives.

He was asleep when we came home from attending the Christmas  Eve mass last night but when it was time for Noche Buena, he was wide awake. He kept saying, “dami, dami” while looking at the gifts in one corner with his name in lots of the pile. Nissa gifted him with a big Mickey Mouse stuffed toy, almost taller  than he is and some battery-operated toys that he enjoyed playing with. At first he was reluctant to open the big package from Toys R Us. He only saw the back of Mickey and thought it was scary. We were laughing so hard when he finally glimpsed at his favorite Disney animal cartoon character and he embraced it while saying  “Mickey, Mickey” in an excited voice.

Christmas 2014 with Nissa and Nate and Mickey of course...

Christmas 2014 with Nissa and Nate and Mickey of course…

I told Nissa she should have taken a video on Nate’s reaction while playing with his robots and shouting and dancing at the same time – a spontaneous display of joy.  Such a simple thing to make a child laugh and smile and hug his mommy back. Every time I see a child’s  appreciation for what you give him, it reminds me of  how life should be lived – happiness is just within one’s reach if you’ll only learn to appreciate what is around you.  We can surely learn from a child.

Thank you so much for all your Christmas wishes and greetings. I am truly blessed and lucky for having you all as blogging friends.

Do you keep  a  New year’s resolution?  Have you made one?

 

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Let us for a while forget being politically correct and say a sincere greeting to all our friends out there. A BLESSED AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!  Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth and not just a holiday so we don’t say happy holidays. It’s that time of the year when we remember old friends, even those  we only see once in a while. It’s that time of year when family togetherness is what counts most in our celebration and I guess Noche Buena would be the loveliest meal of the day when you take time to prepare something for the whole family. There is that feeling of joy in one’s heart , a feeling of hope, a feeling of love.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

It’s a wet Christmas! So unusual that it’s been raining since I woke up and hasn’t stopped until now. PAGASA says it’s the tail end of a cold front (whatever that means) but it is cold and they have issued a yellow rainfall warning in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.  I am sure despite the rain, we’ll have a merry Christmas. Just waiting for daughter’s family  to arrive and son to come home early from work.  Done with preparing some favorite food, baking for my grandson, gifts are waiting to be opened. We only need to cook  something more tonight. We have this tradition in the family that we only open gifts after attending mass, partake of the Noche Buena, that’s only when we sit down and enjoy opening gifts. There will always be hugs, smiles and  shouts of joy because you got something you wished for.  Back when Nissa and Josef were little, they would wait patiently near the tree with that look of anticipation on their faces, trying hard to guess what’s inside those gaily wrapped boxes. My son used to say that he didn’t want something that he needs but something that he wants   🙂 Anyway, now that they are adults, we can tell each other what we want for Christmas and it’s fun. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

Let me greet you in our language, MALIGAYANG PASKO SA INYONG LAHAT!  Wish you feel the joy, He has come.

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Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people.
We await Your coming.  Come, O Lord.

It’s the fourth week of Advent, the final week that we have been waiting for.  It’s Christmas Eve in three days and then Christmas, the mixed feelings of sadness, of joy, remembering Christmas past with awe and wonder. A friend asked me once why Christmas sometimes makes her feel sad despite that the season is supposedly for rejoicing and feeling happy. I sometimes feel that too, feeling alone despite the people around you. There is nothing like the Christmas celebration of old, the times when you were younger and the wonder of Christmas filled your spirits with joy. Oh yes, I remember.

I remember the days back in our hometown when my cousins and I would attend Misa de Gallo or the dawn mass which we now call Simbang Gabi. Electricity was only in the town proper so  we would bring torches made of empty bottles with kerosene.  We had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the Church but what joy  were those days. We would sing Christmas carols along the way, shout to high heavens that it was too cold but the highlight of our mornings after  the mass would always be buying native sweets like suman and drink salabat (ginger brew) or rice coffee from grandma’s kitchen. It’s a far cry from how we celebrate Christmas nowadays, with all the commercial exploitation attached to it.

For some, Christmas is just another ordinary day. For kids, it’s another opportunity to have new gadgets to play with, more toys to collect and maybe  some money to put in their piggy banks. For most of us, there are financial burdens that we have to face, conflict with families or friends, endless problems  that make us wonder, where is the joy in celebrating Christmas?  It does not really matter how simple the celebration is, as long as we remember and be ready to receive the Christ Child in our lives – the message He brings, that of hope and love.

Josef and I attended the morning mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and we were surprised to find the image of the miraculous Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary from Manaoag. It’s been ages since I visited the shrine, now a Basilica in Manaoag, Pangasinan.The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Pangasinan is my home province. There were vendors selling religious items outside St. Jude Parish. Josef bought  a St. Benedict cross  and I bought a ring rosary. We have them blessed right after the mass. The cross (a necklace actually) is for me while I gave the ring rosary to him and told him to put it in his bag all the time. I make rosaries too out of hematite beads and Swarovski crystals  and I was fascinated with how these vendors make the rosaries from plastic beads and twines. I love to learn that and it was nice talking to them in our native dialect. I got some discounts because of it.

It was a busy weekend and I look forward to seeing Nate again on Christmas Eve. A  blessed and joyful Christmas to all of you.

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Tonight in some chapels and malls is the third night of Simbang Gabi (Night Mass). It’s also called Misa de Gallo. Over the years, it was simply called Simbang Gabi.  Since not all Catholics could attend the early morning mass at 4am,  they attend Anticipated Masses the night before. Even in offices, they have noon masses to keep up with this lovely tradition of celebrating novena  (nine days of masses/prayers).  It officially starts on December 16 and ends on Christmas eve. Christmas would not be Christmas without celebrating Simbang Gabi, the most festive being the Christmas Eve mass. Noche Buena  usually follows, a midnight special dinner with the family.The table is laden with  sweets, cakes, embutido (our own version of sausage), lumpiang shanghai, fried or roast chicken, hot chocolate, pancit, you name it but it usually depends on one’s budget for the season.

Finally done shopping for gifts for  the family and a few close friends. Gifts are wrapped and put on a table. We didn’t put up the  Christmas tree, for me having the Belen or Nativity set is more in keeping with the season.  It’s after all Jesus’ birth that we celebrate. Sometimes we forget the reason for the celebration. Did I say, it’s barely eight days to go before Christmas?

I searched the net for some new recipes that I could prepare on Christmas day, nothing elaborate but easy to cook meals that the family and I could share – callos, siomai, pasta, potato or macaroni salad. Josef loves gelatin so I will make a gelatin cake, the more colorful, the better. I am thinking of baking cookies this coming weekend to give to neighbors.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

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Early this morning I updated our Catholic page and posted a paragraph from a previous blog about giving during the Christmas season.  When you give, give from the heart. It does not need to be in terms of money.  Give time, some precious moments that would make someone smile, some words that would give comfort to a friend, give time to reach out and show how much you love your family, a hug, a kiss, an embrace, these are definitely priceless.

I’ve always said that prayers are our best conversations with God. It doesn’t matter how simple it is because He definitely knows our needs even before we utter them. Given what I went through the past years, having to undergo life-changing ailments –  two major operations in a span of ten years, chemotherapy treatments and kidney bypass that I never expected to undergo barely a year after I was done with my chemotherapy, sometimes I get so wary of feeling a little low health-wise. I have become so cautious of what I eat, what I do (should not be taxing enough to sap my physical strength) and  the ache and pains that are quite normal for someone who is growing older. I always pray for health more than anything else. As they say, health is wealth and I truly believe it.  Praying for health for the whole family, relatives and friends is number one on my list.

Do you believe in the power of prayers? I do. It’s what keeps me grounded. When you are blessed with something you don’t really expect, your heart shouts with joy and thanksgiving.  I prayed for a little surprise this Christmas….answered prayers.  You won’t believe it, this afternoon I received a lovely gift in the form of  stock dividends from another bank I invested in before I retired from work fourteen years ago. 65% is more than enough for that little surprise that I prayed for.  Unexpected blessings!

When you say “God is good”, Nate would answer, “all the time”.

 

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