Christmas Gifts from Friends and Relatives

There was a short drama last Christmas eve that disturbed the celebration, someone short-circuited after drinking too much, went emotional and flared up. Instead of feeling happy that time, we have been busy looking after my mother who had a panic attacked, I went too nervous and scared.

Anyway, as I looked back on Christmas day it wasn’t bad after all.  Contrary to other Christmases where I bought myself, my own gifts, I have received gifts from friends and relatives, not just one but three gifts.

It was on the 23rd when we are eating dinner when someone call out my name to buy ice pack, I was a bit disturbed because it was me who has to go outside when I am not near the door since it was me who is called, before I can even frown at  the person outside (lol), she handed me two packs of something into my surprise (a special barquiron and Ube Piaya) which is two of my favorite PH native delicacies, was told it was for me which made me too thankful.  It was an unexpected gift from a second cousin’s wife, because were really not too close.

On Christmas day, my sister’s bf came home with three Toblerone’s in hand after being outside.  One of them was given to me, it turns out, our youngest aunt gave it to him for us. I always feel happy and joyful every time I received Toblerone on Christmas day because it reminds me of the time where it was just a dream for the little me.  When I was a kid, I have wished to receive Toblerone too on Christmas day when another kid got it as a white gift from his relatives one Christmas night. During those times Toblerone had been just for rich kid/families and for a dirt poor like us, all we can afford is the cheap chocolates in the store (lol).

Anyway, it is not a secret that I love chocolates and cats, but only few people know that I love collecting pens and notebooks, most of my money in Korea were spent in Watsons and yep Daiso, that is why half of my junks in Korea where notebooks, booklets and art materials.  That is why I am so ecstatic when a friend and his little son handed me a notebook journal as a Christmas gift.

Honestly, I seldom received gifts from other people and I think it is the first time I received a Christmas gift from friends and with that thank you so much!

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Christmas Day: A Time for Celebration or A Time for Brokenness?

Christmas is a time of celebration, the time where people should be merry and happy.  On the 24th it was my late grandma’s birthday so I lit a candle for her while everyone is busy cooking for the Christmas food, I thought everything is going to be well, not until something happened. It was shocking, I don’t know if I should feel nervous first or should I cry first. It feels so bad that I want to escape the moment, I want to run and never come back. I am tired, I wanted rest.

We decided to sleep early and didn’t wait for 12 AM anymore, when I wake up it is already morning and the fear, the sadness is still there lingering. I hate drama, all I wanted is peaceful living that is why when something happened between my sis bf and other relatives, I decided to withdraw from their drama and be at peace.

Well, it is Christmas day today and it feels empty, I went to church in the early morning and the basis of the sermon was from Luke 2: 1-7, with the theme Jesus – The Reason for the Season, where Pastor E talks about the birth of Jesus Christ and what is Christmas all about, he said that Christmas is a time of Celebration, Proclamation and Demonstration. He also said, we cannot celebrate Christmas if there is no joy in our hearts, so I guess there isn’t joy in mine.

Pastor E then shared a short story and afterwards asked if how is our heart doing, if is there is also something hard in our heart that we cannot forgive, open our hearts and be good with our brothers and sisters.

Anyway, after church most of our relatives went to our house for Christmas food. As expected, it was a bit of chaos with little children playing around and adults talking to each other, and it was decided that the clan will have the annual New Year’s party.

Christmas Day is not red or green, it is blue. #ChristmasBlues

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A Simple Christmas Fellowship in Church

The celebration of Christmas fellowship in church was quite different from the previous years,  it wasn’t held in the evening of 23rd anymore nor the 24th.  It was held after Sunday service since 23rd day of December fell on Sunday, there was a fellowship lunch but I decided to went home and eat and returned when the Christmas program was about to start.

The Christmas program isn’t meticulous like the previous years where there was Christmas Cantata and presentations, the fellowship today was just simply made of few presentation  from auxiliary organizations (youth and women), games, exchange gifts and raffles and a simple snacks there after.

Honestly, I don’t know what is happening but it seems the old Christmas tradition in the church is slowly fading and changing.  When I am still a kid, I remember there was role playing in church and I have even joined a Christmas concert back then when I really don’t know how to sing, and it was the last time I have joined group singing because when I went to back into my chair feeling happy after performing with the other kids, an aunt blurted out that I sing too loud when I am out of tune (lol).

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Christmas Night Market in Town of Odiongan

Sunday, we have  a class in the afternoon, but I didn’t go to school because I am not really feeling well, so I asked my friend W to excuse me in class, with an excuse letter. It will be our first meeting after our teacher didn’t show up last Sunday to school, and as expected only a few students attended the class, good thing they didn’t do some lessons just some chit chats.

Now a day, Facebook is becoming a big help in spreading information and it was through Facebook that we have heard that the Christmas market in Odiongan opened last night. My mother, sister and I checked it out last night and it was bigger than the previous night markets in the town of Odiongan, there are many stalls and business owner who participated this year.

We walked through the stalls of clothes, toys, accessories and etc. before reaching the food stalls at the other end, it looks like they were the same food stall at first glance, but then at second look you will notice that there are some new stalls added and as expected the smoothie of fresh fruits was the most popular stalls.

We sat along the benches where many people were seated inside the Children’s park, there are some young people dancing, kids playing, older people chitchatting, people  taking pictures and etc., The park was adorned too with beautiful and big lanterns, as I have heard from a cousin there will be a  lantern contest but as the youth president in our barangay had said the judging will be on the 15th.

We just wander a bit among the Christmas lanterns and decided to go home while the opening program was just starting.

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Christmas Fellowship: God’s Greatest Gift

It is Christmas day again soon, the entire theme for the month was God’s Greatest Gift. The Christmas fellowship was celebrated on the 22nd with mini-concert from the young people, they sing, play ukelele and do interpretative dance.  After which was exchange gift, the kids do it first then adults, contrary to the norms you have to go upfront and seek for the person (your monito/monita) you picked from the Christmas draw a week before the fellowship, it was a bit hard because everyone uses aliases. You have until three tries to guess the right person, if you are not able to do it right you have to pay a fine.

It was quite entertaining and funny guessing, everyone had a good laugh.  When the adults finishes their exchange gifts the young people follows where I have joined as well, the process is a bit different you have described your monito/monita.

And as expected, I was told that it was hard for the young people who got my name to choose what gift she should be given to me, there was also a raffle draw.

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Christmas Day 2016: Experience the Miracle of Christmas

There was a Christmas Cantata and exchange gift party last night at church, the cantata started early and wasn’t able to watch it from the start since we went to town to buy some stuff. It wasn’t that exciting anyway since it was just the same as last year, the young people sung the same song. The exchange gift party was done after the raffle draw where I bought few tickets and didn’t win even a minor prize.  I received colorful food container from the exchange gift party, it turns out my cousin’s wife picked my name during the raffle of names for exchange gift party.

Today is Sunday and it is Christmas day, most of the people in church were wearing red and the kids are feeling festive. Pastor E’s topic for today is part of the series of “Experience the Miracle of Christmas” which is The Miracle of the Method – from the scriptural verse of Romans 11:33.

Pastor E talks about how God’s method transcend us, His greatness beyond measure and beyond human understanding. He added that God’s method include each one of us, He uses ordinary people to accomplish extra-ordinary things and God’s method sanctify us, God is at work in our lives in ways that we do not and cannot fully comprehend.

After the church service, Pastor E told everyone not to leave since there will be a gifts to be given. The kids were given bag of goodies that consists wafers, biscuits and chocolates. When all of the kids got theirs, Pastor E called the young people to get their goodies I immediately run upfront while calling the attention of my younger cousin who is set to marry in a few days, she was in hesitation maybe because we are too old for the bag of goodies but with an older cousin pushing her upfront she followed me. When I returned, my cousin told me that some people voice out if I am  still a young people because as what they knew I am not anymore and I am already married, so I replied while laughing that the bags of goodies are for my younger sister who’s a member of the young people, she went home ahead because she needs to reheat something.

We prepared a little food to eat on Christmas day so some of of our relatives went to our home after the church service, they didn’t stay longer but I have enjoyed their company that I wasn’t able to feel Christmas blue making this Christmas a bit better than last year, especially with my little cousins visiting.

Well, since my personal photos were stolen from my dead travel blog and posted to other people’s website I started to blur photos with people in them for privacy reason.

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How I Spend Christmas Day with Fun and Sadness in my Heart

We slept late last night but I have to wake up early so I can attend Christmas service because it was scheduled early. The church is full than normal, wasn’t able to understand the sermon because some people are too noisy, this is what I hate sitting at the back. My sister initially suggested we should seat in the front but I didn’t agree with it because I am wearing a dress for the first time in church and just a small mistake on my seating position, the universe will say hello.

The scriptural topic is about “Accepting Christ”, when the short service ended, candies and cash were given to small kids and then groceries to grandparents.

Some of the relatives who were not able to go in our house last night dropped by, there is still left over spaghetti and purple yum, my sister just reheat the sauce so it is warm. Gladly, I have a few small bills too because small kids came over to ask for Christmas gift, it was quite embarrassing if I am not able to hand any amount since they were with an adult. I wrapped notebook for a neighbour kid since she cried a lot last year and won’t accept cash when she saw the gifts under our Christmas tree intended for my Godchildren. Our relatives stay a bit longer after meal and we just have conversation about their babies because while they’re eating we look after them. My younger cousin’s youngest baby has an eye problem; he was diagnosed blind by a doctor when his eyes didn’t blink after lighting up a medical flashlight on them. When we first heard about it, we have asked if the light in their bedroom was very bright, and indeed it was so they started putting a bath towel in the mosquito net to block the light, the baby improves a bit since then, looking after the baby we noticed he can see a bit because his eyes follows us when we move, like when I seated behind his head he rolled his eyes up, and he smiled and cooed a lot when you talk with him too, my aunt informed us that her daughter doesn’t know how to talked with the baby, breastfeeding him is enough for the mother and while we are talking my older cousin G’s wife came over with her two kids and everyone had so much fun with lot of kids around but when our relatives left our house I felt empty and that’s where depression ate me, eating at the Christmas table feasting at the leftover food I can’t control myself and broke to tears, I have asked my mother what will happen to me now. Am I going to live like this until I grow old? Am I going to be forever alone? My sister blurted out that she’s around to look after me, then my mother told me that’s why I should not treat my sister badly if I don’t want to grow old alone because she will be the only person I can rely on when time comes…

Well, we’ve watched a Korean variety show “Running Man” which my sister downloaded online while resting but I fall asleep without my knowing after being exhausted with my feelings and when I wake up it is almost evening.

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The Small Christmas Tree and Unplanned Preparation

Christmas is a season of love, peace and giving. Initially I didn’t plan anything for Christmas but I have realized I am going to be selfish among the people around me, among my God children’s, it feels like I am going to rob their happiness without handling them presents on Christmas day so within last minute I wrapped small things for them and put them under a small tree that I bought in South Korea during Christmas time just to add Christmas feeling inside our apartment. We have no tree because I have told my family not to decorate a Christmas tree since I don’t feel like celebrating. You know why? I felt jinx because it was only last year that I have seen a real Christmas tree decoration in our home, growing up we just used fortune plant as Christmas tree, hanging those worn-out decors.

Small Christmas Tree

Cooking something for Christmas wasn’t really in my vocabulary too but my family cooked “pork stew”, they said at least we can all eat good viand on Christmas eve.  An older female cousin came to our home a few hours before Christmas eve saying they will dropped by in our home tonight, we told her we have nothing in our Christmas table then she suggested to have rice cakes and she can cook it if we provide the sticky rice, sugar and coconut. That’s where I felt obliged to shell out my $10 savings for spaghetti so we could offer other food than pork soup on Christmas eve.

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Our First Christmas in Korea

This year is the first time we celebrated Christmas in Korea, we usually celebrate Christmas overseas or in the air, what I mean in the plane while traveling to our destination.  We didn’t travel this holiday because we are leaving Korea soon and we are planning to travel for six months, I am hoping I could get a visa so I can tag along with my husband.

Pizza School and Paris Baguette

As we are going to Seoul for the weekend to eat Bulgarian food we really didn’t prepare anything for Christmas, we had a pizza and spaghetti from Pizza School and baked goods from Paris Baguette.

My husband went with me this time at Pizza School to order pizza. When we arrived I first thought the shop is closed, although I see the owners eating their dinner. Well it turns out I pushed the door instead of pull, silly me! Business as usual, the owners stopped from eating and prepared our order, new customers came in too.  I was surprised to see the owner’s son because every time I dropped by their shop to order pizza, it was only him and his wife although I saw another female once which I think their daughter.  I was happy to know that they have kids, because grandpa is not getting any younger. When we left with our orders the son greeted us Merry Christmas, we say thank you and greeted back. Probably the son is studying at University in Seoul and came home for vacation.

Instead of buying Christmas cake we opted for baked goods because the Christmas cakes left at Paris Baguette are all in white cream, I prefer chocolate cake. Unlike most days Paris Baguette is quite busy,  there are a lot of customers coming in and out. The baked good trays are empty but there are a lot of Christmas cakes on display. I think they hired extra baker because at the back of the counter we can see two people in their white uniform baking cakes.

Well this is how we celebrated our first Christmas in Korea.

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A Christmas Guide: Saving Tips and Frugal Christmas Menu Planning

Every one of us wish to have that ideal Christmas dinner, with complete family members, sumptuous foods, amazing gifts and festive mood. However, the amount of money that you have to spent to create an amazing dinner for the whole family can really drive you insane. Before you get stressed just thinking about it, this article will help you make Christmas festivities fun yet within budget.

Saving Up for Christmas

There are lots of ways you can make extra money to finance your Christmas festivities. The first and easiest way to do Is to scour your house for any CDs, DVDs or any clothes that are already of no use to you then sell it online or in a car garage sale. A few weeks before Christmas season, you can try eating packed lunches or snacks in office or in school instead of buying them outside. You can also try jotting down all your expenses daily. By doing this, you can be able to monitor where you are spending your money. You can then easily get rid of any unnecessary expenses.

Christmas Dinner

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Planning A Frugal Christmas Menu

You do not have to spend too much money on your Christmas dinner. Here are some simple tips:

  • Know the right portions. We all know that everybody loves turkey on Christmas. However, the turkey dish will become leftovers the next day. Just buy the right amount of food for everyone so that you can avoid wasting food and money.
  • Cook the leftovers.

You can try to think of ways on how to recycle your leftovers. This will allow you to money on your meals for the next few days.

  • Shop months before.

Make a list early on and try to stock these items on your pantry one by one.

  • Use coupons. Coupons will come handy during the holiday season.

 Enjoy your Christmas eve!

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