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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’


♫♪And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart♪♪♫

Yes, my favorite time of the year is almost here.  Next Sunday is the start of the Advent season, the beginning of another liturgical calendar, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus.  I love the ritual of praying and watching the lighting of the first Advent candle, it signals the official start of the most joyous season of the year.

I am glad there is always YouTube to provide the music, I won’t have to take out all the Christmas CDs  which are usually mixed with other DVDs the kids have accumulated through the years. Listening to Christmas carols all day long, singing  along and belting out those familiar tunes and inspiring words. Truly, it warms the heart. I love the Christmas album of the Günter Kallman Choir, the cool voice of Johnny Mathis, the romantic way our very own  Jose Marie Chan sings his Christmas compositions, Jason Mraz’ version of Winter Wonderland and the Pilipino Christmas songs from way back which speak of how we Filipinos celebrate Christmas. The latter would make you dance, stomp your feet and sing the familiar Tagalog lyrics.  Talk of tinolang manok, lechon, salabat, bibingka, puto bungbong, hot tsokolate and such recipes and delicacies that you can only find here. The joys of meeting friends and relatives, the fun of watching little kids singing their versions of Christmas carols and shouts of “namamasko po” and your shouts of “patawad” because there are no more loose coins in your pocket.

Gifts are wrapped finally but I think I would have to make another trip to the mall for those I haven’t marked on my list yet. We have put up some Christmas decorations but don’t have the lights yet anywhere outside the house. And it is this time of year that I am sure Nate would love to celebrate with us. He is three years old now and can appreciate even small gifts that he receives. I love how his eyes light up and his whole face transforms into a smile while uttering a single word “wow”.

Hmmm….now I’m counting! Did I say there are twenty-nine days to go before Christmas?

 

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Time flies.

I wonder how many times I blogged about month endings and beginnings. Was it only yesterday that I was blogging about Christmas? Here we are again, June is about to say goodbye and July is inching its face.  It rained last night, that kind of downpour that always makes you wish you were all at home, cozy amidst the angry battering like bullets on the rooftop. I told Josef he was lucky it was his day off. That smell of rain sometimes brings fear but it also makes everything around greener than before. The dust of several months have finally been washed out and if only for this, I welcome the rain.

Time flies too soon.

I remember these famous lines from the poet Langston Hughes about dreams and life.  It says and I quote, “hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly”. I always hold on to that thought, dream on, look at life and face it bravely no matter what. There are times when the easiest thing to do is to give up but being weak and knowing that you  are, accepting your faults and acknowledging your mistakes is even more admirable than showing false bravado amidst your tears. Life’s  journey is not a straight path, it consists of little setbacks that make it more meaningful in the end.  Life is not a paved highway, there will always be potholes along the way.

Time flies too soon and June is rapidly coming to a close. It’s been a lovely month  spent reading a lot and gardening despite the heat. I hope the month of July would be kind to my weary bones and aching joints.

Time flies too soon and before you know it, Christmas is here. Wait a minute, did I just say Christmas?


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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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♫♪♫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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♪♫have yourself a merry little Christmas. let your heart be light♪♫♪

Do I hear the music playing? Gosh, the days are definitely chasing each other. Josef and I have finally put up our minimal  Christmas decor and I love the look of our home now. Mind you, these are recycled  decorations that we have accumulated over the years and lovingly restored just for this occasion. I know some of you don’t celebrate Christmas the way we do here in our country, three long months of celebration.  Shopping malls are truly alive during this season because they usually put up their larger than life Christmas trees, trimmings and twinkling LED lights as early as September. Where can you find Christmas songs being played all day long? An  advertising gimmick to lure more shoppers of course. We are vulnerable that way because we love Christmas.  I’ve done shopping for some gifts for the family but I haven’t completed  my list yet. This is the first time that we did the decorating this early. I took advantage of Josef’s vacation leave to sort what to put up. I bought something new of course and it was the first time I did it – a set of pillow cases in Christmas prints.

Christmas 2014 - 2

Christmas 2014 -1I bought those empty rattan carts a year ago and embellished them with Christmas balls and flowers. That white porcelain nativity set was a gift from a friend many years ago and I just love it.

Our town is participating in a Christmas tree contest in the whole province of Rizal. The large Christmas tree displayed at the grounds of our municipal hall is made from recycled soft drink bottles. I hope we win 🙂

Don’t look now but I’ve finally been able to find some pictures of the Ayala Triangle gardens. The tradition continues with the  Festival of Lights happening  every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10 pm every night starting today and will continue till January 04, 2015. I got these two pictures from the timeline of JAZA (Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala), one of the big bosses of Ayala Group of Companies, Bank of PI included. I am sure he wouldn’t mind if I post them here 🙂 He has a page on FB which most former unibankers like me follow.

Courtesy of JAZA. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Corp.

Courtesy of JAZA. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Corp.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

I hope I would be able to visit this and watch musicians/composers sing Christmas carols of old. This is right in front of Nissa’s office building.

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I briefly went out to unlock the gate and a cold wind brushed my cheeks. Cold nights and cold mornings are finally here. In our corner of the world, that means Christmas is near.  I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet but my list has narrowed down a  bit. It’s mostly for family now. Years ago, I dreamed of just baking some goodies  for our neighbors and a few close friends I still get in touch with. I guess, I know enough now to make it happen.  As you grow older, the Christmas list is a little shorter because what matters is not the material gifts but more on what you share from the heart. There was a time in the distant past (when I was still working) that I used to buy all my gifts for family and friends even at the start of the year and by September, everything is ready.  I love  it to be a little personalized keeping in mind the particular person I want to give the gift to. I used to wrap them up and lovingly embellish the boxes with ribbons. That’s when Nissa’s craft supplies come in handy. The crimping scissors, glue sticks, wrappers, ribbons and all the accoutrements we have collected over the years. I recently visited my photo albums at Photobucket and found these. I don’t have any picture on my Zoom browser application except for the latest shots of my Mokara orchids.

the fun of crafting...

the fun of crafting…

I love using local materials which are cheaper and fun to do. I have a stash of greeting cards for all occasions and I still use them now and then. One thing that I miss nowadays is receiving  hand-written cards  and letters from friends. I am reviving it this Christmas.  I will buy greeting cards and write. There was a time in our small group of online friends at Multiply before when we exchanged letters and postcards and it was fun. Every day, I would check if there is one in the mail.

and the joy of wrapping gifts...

and the joy of wrapping gifts…

I am excited. It’s 48 days to go before Christmas. Since Josef is on leave, we will visit Nissa later at her office to have lunch together.  They have scheduled a trip next week to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Nate’s second birthday and they have chosen Siquijor and Dumaguete City in their itinerary. Siquijor is a lovely island province in Central Visayas. Like Boracay, it boasts of white sands and lovely beaches. Lucky Nate to have a wide and big playground for a few days.

 

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