Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's Christmas!! It's Christmas!!

"It's Christmas!!! It's Christmas!!! Daddy, Daddy, can we open up our presents already?? Please..please...please..." asked my 2 lovely daughters.

Before we let the kids open up their presents, it has been our tradition to read the Christmas story from the Bible. My wife and I feels that it's important that our daughters learn the true reason for celebrating Christmas. We don't want them growing up thinking that Christmas is all about Santa Claus and his reindeers, going to parties and receiving presents. There is nothing wrong with these things but we feel that it's our responsibility to teach them what we believe in.

So after we read the Christmas story with our daughter Cheryl doing the reading, we prayed for for the best gift that mankind has received from our Lord. After praying, then that's the time that the kids open up their presents.

I just love watching my kids open up their presents and the change in the way they open them. When Cheryl was still very young, she would try hard not to destroy the wrapper. But now, she just have a blast ripping the wrappers apart! Abby was different. Right from the start, she just rips the paper apart. The excitement that I see in their eyes is priceless and something that I will cherish all my life. And the way my two daughters interact with each other during this time always bring joy to my heart.

I was the only one not opening any presents but I didn't really care. Just seeing my wife and kids happy, everybody in the family healthy, having a roof over our head and warm meal in our tummies is more than enough for me. You see during my younger years, I grew up in the slums back home in the Philippines. We were literally dirt poor. I have lived a life of having nothing and worrying about when our next meal is going to be. It was really tough on my mom and dad. I know that they didn't want their kids to be in that situation but things really weren't working out well for them. But with the Lord's blessings, things turned around. And now here I am in the US with a wonderful wife and beautiful daughters and having a very comfortable life. So, all I have to do is look back and that will always put the sense of satisfaction in my heart.

But of course, not having any present to open on Christmas day gave me the opportunity to mess with my oldest daughter's mind. I can't resist to play the "poor thing" card. She got so worried and kept explaining that she wanted to create something special for me. Eventually, I finally let her off the hook and told her that Daddy is just teasing her.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Christmas Eve and Noche Buena

We spent Christmas eve with my college buddy and his family in Corona, CA. My friend's name is Robert but I call him Babski. His wife is Wen and their son is Mikee. Babski and I go way back to college days and we have kept in touch with each other and with our other college classmates. We are from B.S. Math 4C class and we have a yahoo group which allows us to stay in touch with each other and get to know what's going on in each other's life.

I have known Wen for a long time too because she and Babski were dating during our college days. They are two of our closest friends and when we meet up, no matter how long we haven't seen each other, we pick up where we left off and it always seem like we never left each other's side. And that's what I like about my friendship with my college buddies. Until now, it's still there and still strong despite the fact that we are practically scattered all over the world now. Internet really makes the world smaller!!!

So by now, you must be dying to know what is Noche Buena, right? Ok, ok....Here's a little bit of tradition tidbits. Philippines is predominantly Catholic. The Catholic churches perform services for 9 days leading up to Christmas eve. it starts on December 15 and the last one in the series is performed on Christmas eve. In the not so distant past, these services are conducted at 4am or 5am and these services are called Simbang Gabi. Lately a lot of churches are performing these services at night instead of early morning although there are still some churches that performs them in the morning. After the last service, families would then gather together at midnight to partake on a feast that has been prepared to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This feast is called Noche Buena. There you go....you get to know a bit about how Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines.

Babski and Wen prepared this midnight feast for us and I must say, it brings back a lot of nostalgic memories in my mind. I remember the things that I usually do with my family during this time. We were concerned on how to keep the kids up but surprisingly, they managed to do it because they were enjoying playing games. I was tired already and didn't have much left because during the day we were in Disneyland doing a lot of walking, standing and walking and standing and walking and standing...you get the picture.

Anyway, Babski and Wen did a wonderful job and the food turned out great. It was worth the wait. But what makes the occasion more memorable is the fact that we were with our closest friends who we consider as family.

Thanks Babski and Wen!!! Let's plan to do it next time at my place if Babski will only drive up to Northern California...right Wen?