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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas 2014’


“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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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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I am bringing back my month-ender blog and saying hello to a new month. Welcome December!

Tomorrow is another start in the liturgical calendar. It’s new year, the First Sunday of Advent. It is always a joy to greet the start of the Christmas season.  I attended the anticipated mass held at Our Lady of Light Parish a few hours ago. They have lighted the first Advent candle – the expectant waiting and the preparation for the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. These are usually busy days for my apostolate, updating our page with Gospel readings and reflections for the Christmas season. Fr. Louie, my co-admin at the site is busy with the preparation of the coming visit of Pope Francis in UST come January 2015. Pope Francis will be the third Pope to visit our alma mater and the fourth time that it will be visited by a Pope. It was first visited by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1970, I was in high school then and he was the only Pope I saw personally. It was followed by St. Pope  John Paul II in 1981 and during the World Youth Day in 1995.

Lately, I noticed that there are lots of views on my previous posts about the Advent season.  If there is one thing that I’ve often blogged about the last five years, it’s Christmas. I love listening to Christmas carols, I think it’s time to bring out my collection of Christmas CD albums. One of my favorites is the Gunther Kallmann Choir.  The album is a priceless collection of Christmas songs that remind you of some lovely childhood memories.  Nostalgic but happy. A close friend recently asked me how I still find time to smile and show  a happy face despite everything that happened in my life. All I can say is, happiness is and will always be a choice. Then I remember a blog I wrote about finding happiness three years ago as part of my Post A Day 2011 challenge.  I am reposting it here in case she visits my blog and read it.

There was this story of a little boy who ate worms because he felt no  one would mind if he did.  No one would care if he gets sick because he has no friends.  How many of us feel that way? We feel abandoned and alone because no one would say, “Don’t, you’ll get sick if you do that.”  How many of us feel that our life is useless because no one cares?

We seek that elusive thing called happiness but there is really no cut and dried formula or rules by which we could say, “follow this and you will be happy.”  Since time immemorial, man has searched for that one special something that would permanently put a smile on his face,  a lift of the heart and a feeling of joy everyday of his life. But do you think life would be interesting if we don’t encounter those small barriers that give its meaning? Problems are meant to spice up life just as search for happiness is. They say that happiness is a state of mind and it is a result of events and circumstances  that have positive effect in our well-being.  I don’t think we need to search for it because it naturally follows when something good or something inspiring happens in our lives.  Some people would be happy with just a few pesos in their pockets but some  need millions stashed in their bank accounts to make them feel secure and happy.

Happiness comes easy to those who look at the sunrise and think that it is another golden opportunity to shine while it does not come easy to those who think that it is another day to hurdle. In the end, happiness is how we make it, it depends on our attitude towards life, whether we choose to enjoy it or choose to be miserable. Happiness is infectious while misery is not. Think of happy thoughts always.

November is about to end, and December will always be a favorite month of the year. Happy new month dear friends.

 

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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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What a mouthful for a blog title! Some would probably say it is too early yet. It’s the anticipation and the countdown though that make Christmas something to look forward to  every year.  It’s 76 days to go before Christmas, better yet make that 75 since October 10 is about to end.

Our street is the role model for the others when it comes to decorating. Christmas season or not, we have a color motif all year round. Since we adopted the idea of lighting our own street (that means every house has a light post in front) without relying on the subdivision fund to pay for our street light consumption, it has become even better. Our street coordinators maintain them and we have uniform potted plants lining the street as well.  I saw them fixed the parols this afternoon, those small Christmas lanterns that light our street every year. I got excited watching them decorate each light post.

Violet St. at night....

Violet St. at night….

This was how it looked last year. I wonder what they’ll add  to make it look more festive this time. I think it’s time to clean and bring out my favorite Christmas decor again although I don’t get to hang them until November 30 of each year.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Do I hear Christmas carols too?

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