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Archive for the ‘gift-giving’ Category


Nissa surprised me with a new silicone cell phone cover for my phone. It is a Samsung A20 which I bought last year on my birthday. Back then it was just out in the market and a good buy with a 13MP +5MP cameras and an 8MP front camera. I bought a simple rubberized cover, a plain one actually to protect it. Since it’s color is deep green, Nissa also chose this leaf design….haha!

She said I am not a techie because I don’t tend to explore its nice features. Come to think of it, I haven’t even changed its screen saver and its other features so Nissa did it. We laughed together while I was exploring those lovely photos. She chose this green one so even the apps are colored green too. She says I am a green lady because I love nature.

Along with the cover were two large bottles of Nivea Body Milk and a large bag of different breads she bought at BreadTalk. Little surprises like these tickle the heart. Nissa is a very thoughtful daughter.

And for the first time too, I downloaded the Lazada app. Lazada is the number-one online shopping and selling destination in Southeast Asia – present in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. I wanted a bathroom caddy since ours broke a few days ago. Wow, there are so many cheap items which are even delivered for free. I have to create an online account for it, write it down because for sure I won’t remember it when it’s time to use it again. I don’t want to use my Visa card so I opted for COD payment. Nissa told me that once I get the hang of it, I might purchase other items again. I told her I am looking for gifts to give this Christmas. She told me to download Shoppee too, another e-commerce platform based in Singapore. The truth is I am afraid to purchase online but there are things you have to look out for – the reviews, the items they sell compared to other vendors, the quality of the merchandise, the number of buyers and their ratings etc. You can all see them online. The joy of online shopping even if you won’t have to buy an item but your eyes are pretty satisfied.

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Finally, I was able to squeeze one afternoon buying gifts for family members. You might think it is a little bit OA buying  Christmas gifts this early, at least I am halfway through.

For every gift amounting to P500 and up, you’ll get free wrapping from the department store complete with nice ribbons.  I always save on Christmas wrapping papers every year because of this. I usually buy kitchen accessories for Nissa and Obet for when they would transfer to their new home. The house was already built but there are no divisions yet for the rooms upstairs.  I wonder when everything would be completed. Now that Nate is growing and already knows the value of money, he prefers cash gifts but I still buy something he could open on Christmas Eve which they usually spend here.  Years ago, I gave him an additional gift of a piggy bank and  he was thrilled when they opened it and Nissa counted  the money he saved. It went  straight to his savings account. Teaching kids the value of saving is one gift that you can give them which they will appreciate later on.

I had a nice chat with one of the mall’s staff at the gift wrapping section and he laughed when I said that those gifts are for Christmas. He said it is always a good time to buy early since once November comes in and most employees receive their Christmas bonuses for the year, the  mall is a hive of activity especially at their section.

Back when I was still working at the bank,  I would start  buying Christmas gifts as early as September because back then, I had a longer list. Most of them were officemates and friends. Now it is purely for the family and some close friends nearby.

I  dropped by BreadTalk and bought my favorite Spring in the City slice plus a loaf of wheat bread.  One thing I like about buying there is that, you are always entitled to a full 20% discount if you are a senior citizen. And their products are freshly baked.

There goes my Saturday afternoon. It’s time to read again I guess.  Onward to my 119th read this year.

 

 

 

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About an hour ago, two employees from the Municipal Hall came over and brought a small bag of groceries and an umbrella courtesy of Mayor  Kit Nieto. This is the second time I received such.  They give these gifts to all senior citizens of the town when they reach their birthdays. I’ll have mine this coming Saturday.

It’s the gift that counts, right?

I texted Mayor Kit to say thank you and he greeted me a very happy birthday 🙂

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Perhaps you won’t believe this. I am finally done with Christmas shopping for family members and  my god-daughter. I had the chance to go back to the mall this morning  and made use of the time to roam around and buy Nate something for his birthday too.  They’re all wrapped and ready 🙂 Gifts for close friends will follow.

There is an advantage when you buy gifts early. The crowd is almost non-existent. You can choose gifts in your own sweet time  without having to hurry and fall in line at the counter.  Some areas  and stores have  brought out new Christmas decor already and believe me, they are more costly than last year.  Inflation rate here has gone too high and might be even higher come Christmas time.  Maybe next month, I’ll do the Christmas shopping for groceries that we will need come December.

The afternoon was spent at the garden trimming and pruning. The weather with a slight breeze is just right for gardening. I am not done yet though, there is still the carabao grass to cut.  Every month, we have to trim it.

I set aside reading for a while. Maybe I’ll try to catch up tonight.

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I was on a movie marathon last night. First it was Goodbye Mr. Chips followed by The Old Man And The Sea, then another by a Hallmark movie that I didn’t actually finish. Too cheesy…haha!  Goodbye Mr. Chips  was so good.  I haven’t read the book by  James Hilton but the movie adaptation was just lovely.

“For Chips, like some old sea-captain, still measured time by the signals of the past. . . .”

I was familiar with the title, The Old Man And the Sea by Ernest Hemingway  but I never got the chance to read it before.  And now here was the movie adaptation that I  excitedly watched. A story of  courage and personal triumph. Imagine an almost a  one-man movie and his friend who was so concerned about the old man going alone to  fish.  I remember this lovely line while the old man was struggling to pull out a giant marlin.

“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” 

Some had very negative reviews about this, I loved it though. I loved the ocean, the sunrises and the sunsets and the old man’s struggle to get the giant marlin to land. Some would not probably understand it. They would just say, why don’t you just cut the rope and  let the marlin go.  I was curious too how big it really was.

This morning I had the chance to go to the bank to update my account. Josef was on leave for a day. What was supposed to be a twenty-minute jeepney ride became almost an hour because of the traffic.

Don’t laugh, I went to SM East Ortigas afterwards to buy gifts for my kids and Nate. Perfect time to go around the mall since it was not crowded. Four  gifts off my list for Christmas. I haven’t bought Nate’s birthday gift yet  (he’ll be turning six next month) since I am in a quandary whether to give him a toy (which he has lots of) or maybe more children’s books that he could enjoy.

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I want to share with you this lovely and touching story. Sometimes all we want are material things. Sometimes all we think is the value of the gift. Sometimes we are just disappointed when we don’t get what we want.  True or not, this gives us lessons. Regrets come later when you could no longer undo the past.

This is from an anonymous author. Whoever you are, thank you so much for this nice read.  It made me pause to reflect somehow.

A married lady was expecting a birthday gift from her husband. For

many months she had admired a beautiful diamond ring in a showroom

and, knowing her husband could afford it, she told him that was all

she wanted.

As her birthday approached, she waited for signs that her husband had

purchased the diamond ring.

Finally, on the morning of her birthday, her husband called her into

his study. He told her how proud he was to have such a good wife, and

told her how much he loved her. He handed her a beautifully wrapped

gift box.

Curious, the wife opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound

Bible, with her name embossed in gold. Angrily, she raised her voice

to her husband and said, ‘With all your money, you give me a Bible?’

And she stormed out of the house, leaving her husband.

Many years passed and the lady became very successful in business. She

managed to acquire a more beautiful house and had a wonderful family.

But then. she realized her ex-husband must be very old, and thought

perhaps she should visit him. She had not seen him for many years.

Before she could make arrangements, she received a telegram telling

her that her ex-husband had passed away, and willed all of his

possessions to her. She needed to come back immediately and take care

of things.

When she arrived at her ex-husband’s house, sudden sadness and regret

filled her heart. She began to search through her ex-husband’s

important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as she had left it

years before.

With tears, she opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. Her

ex-husband had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11, ‘And if you,

being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much

more shall your Heavenly Father, who is in heaven, give what is good

to those who ask Him?’

As she read those words, a tiny package dropped from the back of the

Bible. It had a diamond ring, with her name engraved on it — the same

diamond ring which she had seen at the showroom. On the tag was the

date of her birth, and the words, ‘LUV U ALWAYS’.

 

How many times do we miss God’s blessings, because they are not

packaged as we expected?

 

Do not spoil what you have, by desiring what you have not; but

remember that what you now have was once among the things you only

hoped for.

 

IF YOUR GIFT IS NOT PACKAGED THE WAY YOU WANT IT,

IT’S BECAUSE IT IS BETTER PACKAGED THE WAY IT IS.

 

ALWAYS APPRECIATE LITTLE THINGS;

THEY USUALLY LEAD YOU TO BIGGER & BETTER THINGS.

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Howdy guys!

I received three more key rings yesterday from my niece based in Bahrain. She bought them when she took her vacation in Jordan, Israel and  France.O h my, I now have  more than 200 key rings not counting those I am presently using.  Got a white mug too from the Abuel reunion held last February 11 in our province.

gifts2

There was this coin purse with a Notre Dame commemorative coin inside it which my niece attached to the package. So glad to have those lovely key rings from those places she went to last year and the other prior to that.

My collection began when I was still working at Bank of the Philippine Islands several years ago. One of my office mates gifted me with a gold-plated key ring in the shape of a T-shirt and marked No. 1. Since  then several were added to the loot once my  close friends learned of my penchant for collecting. I have  several now except in other countries in Europe where  I only have a few. It is nice to see them lined up sometimes when I clean them. Aside from the key rings, I also used to collect stationeries of different sizes but now that I am no longer active writing by long hand, I stopped buying. I still have some though in different colors and designs too.

It’s a good thing e-books have become the in-thing nowadays. My book shelves are overflowing.Double shelving is now a must for me. I tend to collect several books by the same authors once I like what their writing style. I have some signed copies of books sent by my friends from the US.  Except for those Michael Vey series, I almost have all copies of RPE books on hand. I also value my hardbound copy of On Writing by  Stephen King. It’s that kind of book where you’ll learn a lot of writing tools. I thought at first it was his autobiography but it was more on how he started writing.

How about you, what are your hobbies?

 

 

 

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Yeay, happy December friends.  December morning breeze. It’s cold outside.

Did you notice? WordPress has again activated the falling icicles in our posts.  It’s lovely, isn’t it?

I’ve been looking forward to December. I guess it’s actually the best month of the year,  a joyful season to celebrate and to bring joy to others too.  Trite as it may sound and no matter how commercialized the celebration of Christmas has become, it is still the best  season to share, to bond with families and friends  and to remember the sacrifice Jesus has made for mankind.  It’s the season of faith, the season of joy and the season of togetherness.

I remember some old Christmas past. Back in the province when we were younger, Christmas was celebrated solemnly, attending the midnight mass and having Noche Buena later. Although it was way, way different from how we celebrate it today, it was the best. Mom would prepare a simple Noche Buena meal  of pancit bihon, suman and hot chocolate. Dad would bring home lots of apples and quezo de bola and a big box of old clothes donated by the high school students of the university (UST) where he used to work and mom would distribute them to our neighbors. My uncle would cook binungey, a delicacy native to Pangasinan. It’s made of  malagkit (sticky rice) and coconut cream cooked in bamboo and is lined up over fire and charcoal.  I think that’s the best there is in cooking rice cakes. You just have to cut the bamboo in half to get the cooked malagkit inside.

A simple fare of binungey.

A simple fare of binungey.

Back then, we didn’t have exchange gifts at home  but Mom and dad would buy us simple toys to play with.  The grade school days were the same when Christmas comes near. We would find a robust tree outside and decorate it with hand-made paper strings, cut colored paper made into small parols and stars, candies  and occasional plastic decor brought by our teacher. Exchange gifts are of simple things like hand towels, bath soap, pencils  or box of candies. We were happy receiving gifts that way.

Nowadays, celebration of Christmas has become a  little  extravagant. Instead of simple gifts, we give gadgets, expensive toys, and the like. Gone are those days when a box of candies would suffice. Christmas wouldn’t be one without ham, pasta, meat recipes, sweets,cakes and what have you.

I hope we would always remember why we celebrate Christmas. I hope we would always remember the little child born on Christmas day.

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♫♪♫It’s that time of year
When good friends
Are dear
And you wish you
Could give more
Than just presents
From a store♪♪♫

Christmas gifts need not always come in glossy packages and colorful ribbons. They need not be elaborate things that you can only find in shopping malls or gift shops. They come from the hearts of those who believe that it is more important to have love, peace of mind and happiness to name a few.

Every year or when I am not inspired to write, I always read the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breatnach, a day book of comfort and joy that have 366  lovely and inspiring essays for women, one for each day of the year. It is one of the most treasured books that I have on my shelf.  I read the essays at random now but the December entries are my favorites. I am re-posting her own version of the twelve gifts of Christmas. I hope you will find the list as uplifting as I do. I remember posting this four years ago, the message is still the same though. And it’s six days to go before Christmas 🙂

  1. On the first day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Undivided Attention.
  2. On the second day of Christmas, I gave to my true loves:  The Gift of Enthusiasm.
  3. On the third day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Creative Energy.
  4. On the fourth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Simple Seasonal Pleasures.
  5. On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of  Tenderness.
  6. On the sixth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Good Cheer.
  7. On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Beauty.
  8. On the eight-day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Communication.
  9. On  the ninth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of Surprise.
  10. On the tenth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Wonder.
  11. On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of Peaceful Surroundings.
  12. On the twelfth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Joy.

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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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