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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrating Christmas’


It’s a fact that ours is the longest Christmas celebration in the whole world. Nothing could compare with the Simbang Gabi or the dawn masses that end on the day before Christmas. Where in the world could you find the whole family, extended families and sometimes close friends and other relatives celebrating Christmas together under one roof, sharing Noche Buena food, going to mass together, having fun with the kids and the whole rigmarole of exchanging gifts and jumping with joy because you got what you wished for? Or maybe you have given enough hint to your son and daughter that you want this and that without putting a hole in their pockets.

I remember one Christmas long ago, when my son was still in his teens, he told us that he did not want to receive gifts that he needs but he would be happy with something that he wants – the needs being the usual handkerchiefs, underwear, socks  etc. and the wants listed as a new jacket, books, gadgets   or some  simple do-it-yourself  things that he loves.

So how do you lessen stress and enjoy the holidays?  You can really plan ahead on what to prepare  by listing all the things you need and buying them at least  a month, three or two weeks before Christmas. One of the best recipes that we usually cook  in advance is the  embutido. Embutido is a Filipino style meatloaf that can be served hot or cold depending on your  taste and they can be stored in the freezer for as long as a month. There are times when I do  my Christmas shopping as early as the month of September and by November, all gifts are wrapped and labeled.  Do your Christmas shopping all year round. Be on the look out for items that you think would be appreciated by your loved ones. And when December comes, you don’t have to join the Christmas rush because you have saved time by planning ahead.

Don’t feel obliged to reciprocate each single item that you received from someone you didn’t get anything for, a simple “thank you” would be enough.

And there are only 35 days,  11 hours and 50 minutes to go before Christmas.   Enjoy shopping.

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The lazy bug strikes again.

The truth is I am not inspired  to write so I  read the past  three days. I was able to finish a ghost story ( a re-read) and a thriller. Done with 182 books since January, 32 more books added to my 2017  reading challenge.

Looking at the Christmas tree lighted at night makes me remember those Christmas past when the family was still complete with Dad still around and my youngest brother who migrated to the US of A  since 1991.  We used to spend Christmas  Eve in the province, a simple celebration of  Christmas Eve mass,  then later partaking  Noche Buena  with various sweets prepared by Mom.  When I was in high school, I also experienced tagging along with my aunts and uncle a few days before Christmas when we would visit neighbors and friends and sing Christmas songs accompanied by my uncle’s violin and Dad’s guitar.  The fun of walking late at night with a cold breeze on your cheeks, the generosity of people who love to hear Christmas carols of old.  Some would offer hot drinks  or sweets aside from  coins from their piggy banks.  Nowadays, you’ll hear the voices of little children shouting “namamasko po”  and singing  “Thank you, thank you, ang babait ninyo, thank you” and that means “thank you for being so kind”.   Every year, the Mini Parish Pastoral Council would send a letter a week before they are due to serenade each house  in the village with Christmas songs. It’s a way of collecting funds for the chapel and other  Christmas activities in our village.

Envelopes are aplenty during Christmas time from the maintenance of our subdivision, guards, messengers  (some you’re not even familiar with, like those who just delivered  mails  just once)  and our garbage truck collectors.  I give more to the latter because they  are more visible than the rest.

Gosh, it is already November  and we are still having tropical storms. Typhoon Salome is the  19th one this year. We are under signal number one. PAGASA says it  would bring lots of rain.  It is expected to move out of  PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) by Saturday morning.  I am hoping it would not bring lots of rains  as they have predicted.

Looking forward to a sunny weekend since I am meeting some friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mornings are definitely getting colder.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was kind of foggy when we woke up.  Officially, “amihan” is finally here.  PAGASA  has declared the start of the northeast winds a few days ago. We call it “hanging amihan”.  It signals the end of the rainy season and the start of  cold weather until February of next year.

I love this season. One would not need to worry about flash flooding or heavy downpours although based on experience, this is where we sometimes have late strong typhoons.  The weather is good though, sunny and bright.

We  are thinking of putting up the Christmas tree but we still have to buy new sets  of lights to decorate it.  So lazy to go out 🙂  They have changed the mall hours, it’s now from 11am to 11pm until January 15  of next year. So if you don’t want to be caught in the  Christmas rush, you can do your  Christmas shopping now. I did mine two weeks ago but I still need a few more for close friends.   Some of us are planning a get-together one of these days of November.  Fr. Lovell and I agreed to meet after Christmas. He is busy with work and we won’t be able to see each other if we don’t make time for it.  I love meeting friends. I love the camaraderie it brings. I love getting in touch with each other. My close friends usually visit me here and I normally cook for them. Nothing that special, just good food to tide us over.

October has been a quiet one except for the days we went out for Nissa’s birthday and mine.  It was just the family. Looking forward to Nate’s birthday but then he’ll probably celebrate  it in school again  just like last year where Nissa ordered food for his classmates and they had it for snack.  Maybe we could go out again after his birthday or  after Nissa’s and my son-in-law’s  annual vacation  (mandatory leaves) scheduled this month.

Of course, I am excited for Christmas, who would not be? xmasclock.com says it’s 51 days, 8 hours and 34 minutes to go before the day.

 

 

 

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Hello everyone!

How was your Christmas celebration? I hope you all enjoyed it. We  have the family including my Mom to celebrate Christmas with.  It was certainly a joy  to see Nate again. We celebrated Noche Buena  at exactly 12 am  after attending mass earlier at our village chapel. It was a quiet celebration, we only opened gifts on Christmas day with  my daughter’s family.

They  came here yesterday to celebrate Christmas with us and  I cooked the Christmas dinner.  Left-over food is still good to go for maybe two days more.  It is always nice to see food nicely spread on the table. Right after dinner, Nate entertained us  singing while playing with his guitar toy.  I wonder how he got those words with a song he definitely invented. Most I could hear were the repetitive words, You Are My Best Friend.   He could really sing in style while at the same time making some moves that we all laughed about.  Was that an exercise Nate or a dance?

Nate playing with his robot toys at the garage.

Nate playing with his robot toys at the garage.

Nate's loot for Christmas...mostly toys!

Nate’s loot for Christmas…mostly toys!

Nissa and  I. Taken this morning when they were about to leave for home.

Nissa and I. Taken this morning when they were about to leave for home.

 

nate-christmas-16

Nate took this shot using a camera stick.

Those lovely moments sharing with the  family – priceless. Hoping 2017 would be a great year for us.

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Greetings of peace.

Finally completed the 9 novena masses for Simbang Gabi. What a joy! What a blessing!

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I would like to wish you all a blessed, happy and merry Christmas. It’s that time of year again when we share the joys that the season brings – time to be merry, time to make friends with those you have hurt and who have hurt you before, time to feel the joy of His coming.  He is the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Here’s hoping for a bountiful 2017 to all of you. I am grateful for your presence and I am glad to meet those new followers to my blog. Let us make this community a truly happy one.

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Just attended the first Simbang Gabi at our village chapel. What a beautiful celebration of the mass.  Simbang Gabi which means  “Night Mass”,  Misa de Gallo in Spanish or “Rooster’s Mass”, or Misa de Aguinaldo, “Gift Mass”  is a novena of dawn Masses from December 16-24  which is  Christmas Eve.  It’s a lovely and unique celebration of attending masses which is normally held at dawn  but the Church allows it to be celebrated a little earlier the night before like tonight.  We witnessed the lighting of the Christmas tree inside the chapel and the lighting of the  Christmas Belen  before the mass started.

Christmas celebration in our country is replete with these  age-old traditions which we inherited from our ancestors.  Dawn masses are usually held at 4am  and start on December 16.  We wait for the nine days till Christmas day.  You are blessed if you complete the nine novena masses because they say that you can ask and pray for certain favors  and they will be given to you.

It’s actually almost nine days to go before Christmas. what is more fitting in honoring the Christ Child by offering this novena. Sometimes in the frenzy of preparing for Christmas, we simply forget what it means, the birth of our Saviour.  We are more focused on the material side of  celebrating Christmas –  giving gifts, preparing for Noche Buena feast, parties here and there, office parties everywhere and  lots and lots of Christmas decor in our homes and on the streets.

But what is Christmas without all these? Here’s a beautiful meditation on Jesus’ nativity from Pope Benedict XVI.

“In the birth of Jesus,
God comes to us and
asks us to receive
Him, so that He can
be born in our lives
and transform them,
and our world, by the
power of his love.

The
Christmas liturgy also
invites us to
contemplate Christ’s
birth against the
backdrop of his
paschal mystery.
Christmas points
beyond itself, to the
redemption won for
us on the Cross and
the glory of the
Resurrection.”

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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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