Chocolate and memories of holidays back home

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4APreface: The post below was created a week or so ago while trying to dictate my thoughts to my phone as I walked. I know I should’ve edited it sooner to retain the flow of thought, but it was Christmas week which was busy for everyone. I tried not to edit the actual content too much because I also wanted to see how I composed the post in this fashion.

—-

I always found myself composing blog posts in my head as I walked, forming sentences in my head. At least one blog post idea pops up, and then when I get home, I forget or I sometimes lose the motivation to write. I simply get overwhelmed by all the other things I need to do.

The last couple of days, I found myself inspired to write again. There are times I find myself unable to write for long periods of time which can get very frustrating when I look at what I have and have not written down. There is a sense of loss for the thoughts that didn’t find their way here.

So I’m trying to write more, even just short blurbs that I can expand later on. When I walk, I usually have music blasting in my ears from my phone. Lately, it’s been the music from the Netflix show Emily in Paris that has kept me company. I usually walk from an hour and 15 minutes to as long as two hours- depending on the combination of walking and jogging that I do.

Much to my surprise, I have managed to walk every single day for the last six months, and always at least 10,000 steps for the last 133 days as of December 26. That’s really a big accomplishment for someone like me who has never really exerted effort to exercise or do any physical activity in my entire life.

It’s really all about taking better care of myself given my age and my health history. Both my parents are diabetics. I remember when I used to be too lazy to even use my gym membership at work. These days, I can’t believe that there are days when I fear that the weather outside would prevent me from going on my walk. So yes, I have walked in the rain and not so much in the snow, but after a snow storm.

I have taken to walking in the evenings lately because work has been rather hectic the last couple of weeks. I actually like it better at night. I don’t have to worry about having to put on the sunblock. Vanity, I know. Secondly, there’s less people walking around or driving around. It doesn’t mean that there’s totally no one around, but there’s just less people traffic.

It’s the weekend before Christmas and I’m trying to get all my Christmas cards written, stamped and sent. I’ve done a whole lot better compared to last year. I was actually sending out Christmas cards on Christmas Day. This time, I had all my Christmas cards ready weeks ahead, but of course life and work took precedence. I had wanted to prepare some packages to send out to friends, but ended up postponing that.

I’ve always been very big on Christmas. It’s actually my favorite holiday. It’s not so much the giving of presents or the traditions that have embodied the holiday for me, but more because it signifies a new beginning. Christmas is the birth of Christ and like all births, symbolizes a fresh start. Personally, I find it a very joyous occasion. No matter what challenges I may be facing or may have faced in the months preceding it, Christmas is always a happy time.

It’s also one of the times that I miss home the most where it is twice as Christmasy than it is here in New York City.

Tsokolate

The other day, I made some hot chocolate from cocoa I had brought home from my last trip to Manila in 2019. Cooking the Christmas chocolate has always been a task my father used to be responsible for. I remember him requiring certain special butter to add to the mix, and he had a wooden mixer to make the tsokolate frothy and thicker. He would put the handle between his palms and shake it while submerged in the hot concoction. The chocolate always had to be a certain consistency with just the right amount of butter and evaporated milk added to it. This was a staple for the Christmas Eve feast, and in the Christmas morning breakfast we serve our guests the next day.

We’d usually have it with some sweet ham, sliced from a whole leg and that sharp Edam cheese. I close my eyes and I am there again. It was sweet and rich and just such a decadent drink of merry and joy.

I miss Papa. He has been gone years now, but every time I have some of this local cocoa, I am back with him again. It makes me pine for holidays in Manila with the rest of the family.

And those snapshots of christmases past run like a montage in my head as I walk, or when I catch a whiff of the tsokolate as I hold the cup up to my lips to take a sip.