And the holidays are here

Christmas in New YorkDisclosure: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

I actually started drafting this post maybe two weeks ago, and then I got caught up with work and real life so all I came up with was the banner above. Tonight, many weeks after my last attempt to get back to regular blogging, I’ve promised myself I will hit send at the end of whatever I write here, and hopefully write more consistently.

It’s Saturday and I’m hoping to get two packages out by Monday to cross the oceans to friends I want to surprise. That thought makes me smile. Somehow the holidays have always been about giving to others more than to myself. There’s joy beyond description when I see the joy in the faces or the voices of those that get my card, my letter, my gift.

Isn’t that what the holidays are about?

Upon Angelo’s insistence, we got a new Christmas tree this year. As I’m basically an online shopper, I ended up getting this tree from Target. I chose it because it was unlit, above 6 feet tall (I ended up getting something that was 7 feet) and of course, on sale. So it arrives as promised, and while it was the size it was touted to be, I was kind of disappointed that it was similar to the tree we had which shed blades like there was no tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, the tree was fine, but I was looking for a certain type and chose something else. As someone who doesn’t drive, I take pride in my online shopping savvy, and the convenience of free shipping to my home was something I could use, more so for an item the size of a Christmas tree. It was good — but I wouldn’t have minded except that it clogged my vacuum cleaner, so the only way to tidy up was to brush the carpet. I have a feeling this will be the first and last year of this Christmas tree. I will endeavor to find an artificial tree similar to the ones I used to know when I was a child.

Christmas trees are a big deal in my family. A good sized manger, too. But I have no room and I don’t have the manger here in New York, so I make do with a tree and lights around my window sill.

I bought a new set of Christmas balls in a teal or is it periwinkle color, mixed with matte and shimmery silver. You’ll have to forgive me for not posting a picture of my tree. It’s kind of camera shy. I used lights from last year and will be discarding the sets that don’t work anymore.

I decorated my windows and put up my parol or Christmas lantern, the newer one. I take pride in the fact that it identifies my home as Filipino because we’re really the only ones who have this kind of lantern which is sort of a cultural signature in the way we celebrate Christmas.

And I got Christmas cards.. haven’t sent them out and it’s (almost) Christmas. Hmmmm… Baby steps, I say.

To be continued…

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Holiday workaround

Last Christmas, (No, I didn’t give anyone my heart as the song goes..), I had promised myself and my little guy that we would really celebrate and decorate for Christmas this year.  The past two christmases before that (in 2013 and 2014) were spent differently and not in our usual way, and I wanted to set things right eventually.  I had hoped it would be this year, but it wasn’t to be.

It was one of those things that you expected would come to pass but did not.  So here we are where we were last year, and I am making the same promise to my little guy for 2017.  Keeping my fingers crossed that next year will see it happening.

So my holiday card, I have decided, will be a new year greeting.  Last year, my boss received a holiday card from one of his fellow Board of Trustees member in one of the more popular children’s non profits he is involved with, and besides the usual greeting, there were a dozen or so blurbs giving an update on the sender and his family.  I thought that was a nice way to reach out to friends and family and sort of give them an update on what’s been happening in my and my little guy’s life.  I am working on that card already.

While I had planned on putting up an extra robustly decorated Christmas tree this year, my tree, as it happens, just went up this previous weekend.  Precious lesson learned was that yes, I could actually bring down the box it down from the attic and not fall and break my neck.  I found the lights and put them on the tree.  I had enough to make it look festive enough sans the Christmas balls so we decided to leave it at that.

I had hoped to create holiday lanterns in the Filipino tradition, but again, it didn’t happen.  Next year, yes!

I thought I had planned things out well enough that I had even created a craft calendar.  Again, life interfered with getting much done according to how I had planned it, but I’m just hoping for better luck keeping with it next year.

The Bryant Park Winter Village Christmas Tree 2016

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and I love the decorating and celebrating and just soaking up all that Yule spirit.  New York tends to be a more sedate Christmas experience (compared to over-the-top festive Manila)  because half the town celebrates Chanukkah (hence, the sea of blue and menorahs everywhere).   Still, there is the neutral and more pagan side of the holiday that sees our beautiful city getting into the spirit of things with all the trees around.  

While part of me is being held back from getting into the full swing of things this year, Christmas is Christmas to me for many reasons.. and it will always be my favorite time of the year, holiday workaround or not.

Merry Christmas to you all..

And the BER Months are here again..

The Philippines purportedly has the longest Christmas season which officially begins during the first “ber” month: September.  Christmas carols start playing on the radio, and Christmas decor start popping up in storefronts, and soon, in the streets and building facades all over.  That’s something I truly miss about home.  This goes on way past New Year’s with the Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of the year following January 1st.

While there are festivities and decorations here in New York, they are very neutral and muted compared to the “Christmas everywhere” feel back home.  First, not everyone celebrates Christmas here in New York — and with everyone trying to be politically correct about holidays and other sensitivities, the attempt at being festive falls short unlike back in Manila.

I am looking forward to a different kind of Christmas this year, although I am almost wary of making definite plans that far.  I am waiting on a life event that is still hanging in the balance to date, and until that comes to pass, everything remains a hope.  I had promised my little guy we will really go all out with the decor this year, but I had made that declaration thinking everything would have settled down by now.  It hasn’t.  So there..

I have always been big on Christmas.  Even when there wasn’t much to celebrate with, I celebrated it.  For one reason or another, my Christmas celebrations here in New York have not been as consistent.  It’s time to change that.  One time we were having our mother-and-son talks a couple of months ago, he asked if we could really decorate for the holidays.. as in REALLY.   I will never forget how my boy’s eyes lit up when I said yes.  That’s a promise I have to make good at.

It was chilly this morning as I walked to the bus stop.  I made a mental note to gather my sweaters and jackets now that the temperatures are dropping as we go into fall.  The coats?  Not quite there yet.   I just love the way the seasons goad us on to move forward, reminding us that nothing stops the world from spinning round and round.  That no matter how life may deal us a blow here and there, or how we find ourselves stumbling through each passing day, the world will keep turning and won’t stop spinning to give us time to regain our footing.  It’s up to us to pick ourselves up and keep going.

 

 

Monday Musings: Cold, Cold and Colder

MondayMusingsLogoIt looks like our crisp nice mornings are switching to cold and colder ones with the onset of near freezing temperatures here in New York. I’m trying to be a bit cautious with the layers, though, which is why I think I ended up being underdressed just a wee bit today.  I will live.   Days like this make me miss Manila all the more — even if everyone complains about the humidity and the heat and dreams of snow.  Keep dreaming — it’s not all it’s cooked up to be.  Ha!

So another Monday, another set of musings.

Layering.  We all tend to be in denial when it starts getting colder and try to ‘brave’ the cold thinking “Nah, it’s not THAT cold.”  Then we get hit by the freezing temperatures as we walk out the door.  Vanity has a lot to do with not wearing a suitable hat or cap because we all hate having to go through hat hair after spending time prettying ourselves up for the day. Then there’s that big decision on which coat to wear — do we wear the shorter and handier one or the long and bulky ones that might make us look like we actually want winter to come.

I’ve started taking out my winter scarves and will  be folding away the lighter, autumn ones.  And over the weekend, I started re-knitting one of the long and chunky yarn scarves which I had made last year, and worn only once because I had done it too long.  I’m trying to make it into an infinity scarf and I’m almost a third of the way through.  Totally excited!

I’m also putting away my ballet flats and polishing my leather boots, and gathering all other winter wear musts.  (T-shirts to wear under the sweaters, sweaters to layer, and gloves to wear.)

Getting ready for my tree.  I have an artificial tree which I assemble and disassemble every year.  I’ve already started clearing that part of the living room where it usually stands and will hopefully be able to put it up this weekend.  In the meantime, I’m making a mental note to look for the christmas balls we had done by color motif each year and fashion some window decor out of them for an additional festive feel.

New York City is getting into holiday mode and the tree in Bryant Park is already up.  I haven’t had the chance to browse the stores and visit, but I hope to feature that here in a forthcoming post.

But before Christmas comes Thanksgiving.  I am not so big on Thanksgiving but Angelo has requested I cook dinner (or lunch) this year.  He’s not particularly into turkey, so we’re going with chicken instead.  It’ll  be a simple dinner but I want to start a new tradition where we say to each other what we are thankful for.  I know that this year has been a challenging but very rewarding one for me, so my list will be rather long.  Or maybe not.

I was planning to make my famous leche flan tonight and had even stopped by the grocery to pick up some limes, but I didn’t realize I was out of condensed milk.  So I guess I am going to have to disappoint the girlfriends counting on their llanera of this Filipino version of the versatile flan.  I will have to make something else for dessert.  I’m thinking some homemade mango ice cream I will make out of regenerated dried mangoes and vanilla ice cream.. Yum!!

I have started saying my “Thank you”‘s.  We always give thanks in general when Thanksgiving can be made even more meaningful by saying thank you to the people who deserve it.  So this morning I texted a friend who is bound for warmer climes with the family this Thanksgiving holiday and simply said that “the friendship we shared was one of the things I am most thankful for in the past year, and I want you to know that that means a lot to me.”

What are you thankful for?  Ah, yet another blogpost.

Monday Musings: Is the long weekend really over?

Okay, we’ve been kind of wanting for a long weekend — and this is the last one until Thanksgiving, believe it or not.  At least for us of the non-Jewish faith here in New York.  I’m not complaining — just wish we had more of these ‘Is it time to go back to work?’ kind of weekends.  I’m actually looking forward to work this week — probably because it’s a short week for us.

Back to school!  I have heard fellow parents breathing out a collective sigh of relief on this one.  I just don’t get it.  Maybe it’s because I only have one, and my little guy has been on auto pilot whenever I was at work.  I’m excited more for him being in middle school now (yes, he is moving on to sixth grade!), while at the same time kind of dreading the waiting for the call to tell me he’s home, telling him to “take off your socks, do your homework, it’s dinnertime” and all that routine resuming.  (I might be part of the minority in this regard.)

In many ways, we’re expecting it to be a little different beginning this year for many reasons, but I’m looking forward to it as I see my little guy growing up.  We’re still in a mental tug of war about the cursive writing, but I’m so happy his cousin, Julia, had gotten him started on it.  “It’s sooooo hard..,” he complains.. and I know I just have to keep pushing, and push I will.

He received a reading assignment at the start of summer and has been reading in earnest but has been trying to charm me into reading the book to help him with it.  (Could this be number 2 in my “read 6 books” this year list?)  I haven’t given in, but I know it’s something I can easily do.  Maybe.

#SwirlsOfColor in #crochet using #doublechain #shellstitching for an #afghan I'm making. Love how #crochetting a #repetitivepattern can be #sorelaxing. #crochetprohect #hadmade #crafting #crafts #handmade #madebygothamchick #crafttherapyEarnestly trying to get ready to get crafting again.  I’ve been busy with the crochet hooks and have been momentarily sidetracked by an afghan project.  I like doing afghans when its a repetitive pattern and when you have a chunky yarn — and I am working with both.  I’m on my fourth ball and expect to be finished after another one plus the trim.  It’s supposed to be a surprise for a friend so other than show an itsy-bitsy swatch here, I’d rather talk about it when the project is done.

In the meantime, I’ve started organizing my materials and hope to start finishing up some of the pretty bows I have designed now that the French Barrette Style Hair Clips I ordered are here.  More on that later but can I just say I love Amazon Prime?  I had tried it a year ago and then cancelled my membership — and then recently signed up a couple of months ago and have been loving it since.  If you order from Amazon a lot, then you will appreciate the free two-day shipping for Prime eligible products (caveat: not all products on Amazon are covered!) — and there’s the Amazon free streaming of all these fab original material plus classics to new releases.

But back to trying to get back into crafting.. so I have tried to start getting organized again but have barely made progress because I have quite a stash to go through.  The shop has been dormant for a bit but I’m hoping to get it ready for the holidays — and I will be around this time.  In my cleaning up, I managed to find a box full of items previously listed, so it’s a matter of relisting those first few pieces.  I am excited to try out some new techniques, though, and will try to carve out regular time to post and create again.

I invested in a dozen Sterilite 16428012 6-Quart Storage Box, White Lid with See-Through Base just to be able to sort the items that have just been thrown together.  I am planning on creating a crafting corner from now to the end of the year to help me get everything together in one space, hidden from view except when I want to do crafting.  So in the meantime, I need to sort through what I have.

And as I sort, I have made a decision on which items to find a new home for.  During my last trip home, I promised my friend, Raine, that I will send her my Artist Trading Card collection to keep or dispose off as she would wish.  I had a fun time creating and receiving some outstanding pieces, but I think my current collection of postcards, Starbucks mugs and pencils are more than enough to keep me happy.  I am trying to find other things I can find a new home for as I try to get myself organized.

The “BER” months are here..  which means thinking of the holidays, holiday cards and holiday presents.  I want to make this year special for my little guy and me because we have so many new things to look forward to.  I want to make the house very festive — and I want to make a special holiday card to send out to friends.  I am already updating my address book — and trying to think up of something nice to do.

The holiday season has officially started in Manila — and I think it would be nice to keep in step with “home” this year.

Just a few more hours of the weekend left — so let me get on with some last minute errands and chores, like a 20-minute walk around I’m supposed to start making a habit of from here on.

Happy Monday, everyone!!

Christmas in New York

Sung by Shilelagh Law

Sometimes there are songs which touch us in a different way.  Thanks to HJ for sharing this with me over the holidays.  It reminds me of why I call New York City my home.  It shows us that we have to take a moment to remember what the men in uniform — wherever they may be — do for all of us.

Merry Christmas, everyone.. hope the holidays are meaningful and happy for all of you.  May the anger stoked by the fires of hate be reduced to but an ember and eventually be extinguished by hope in the promise of renewal of the coming year.

Holiday reboot

I’ve been using the word “reboot” quite a lot lately.  Literally to refer to restarting things, do-overs, waking up.  Not too sure the latter works, but then it’s close enough.

Can you believe it’s 9 days to Christmas?  I haven’t quite finished my holiday shopping but the good thing is that I know what I want. Plus, there’s Amazon.  Can’t go wrong with that, more so if you have a 10-year-old who knows what a wishlist on the site is and how to browse for the toys he wants.  Who am I to refuse the little tyke who knows which buttons to push when he needs something from (gullible) Mama, more so when it’s an app upgrade — he calls me and asks me in the sweetest voice, “How’s my deeeeelight?”

To which I reply, “Which app is it this time and how much?”  And he would break into naughty laughter.  That laughter and voice which are music to my ears.  And I melt and relent.. always.  No matter how I try to hold out, I end up giving in.  I’m trying to practice saying no, though.

I’ve always believed that Christmas is about children, and being that I only have one, it’s all about him.  I try to be reasonable about how much I give him, though.  Fortunately, he has a sense of moderation which helps keep us both from going over the edge with these purchases.  Where other children would grab all four choices when you ask them to pick, he would thoughtfully decide and choose only one.  Picking more than that would need a lot of convincing and will again be met with much deliberation, making sure he makes the better choice.

I’m lucky in that regard.

I’m pulling a few surprises for him this Christmas, and I’m hoping I can get those presents he didn’t ask for but which I know will make his eyes light up when he unwraps it come Christmas eve.

Thinking of his excitement about the holiday keeps me on my toes and inspires me all the more to make this holiday special for him.  And making it special for him is not all that difficult, because he is so easy to please.

Last year’s holidays were saved by his cheer and his innocent joy.  I looked at him and everything was okay again, at least in that moment when I held him in my gaze, and I was reminded about how he means the world to me.  No one could ever touch me more, as the song goes.

This year, I’m doing a holiday reboot.  I didn’t come around as quickly as I had hoped to — part of me is still hung over from the darkness of 2013.  Part of me is wary to put too much effort on our celebration this year.  But it’s hard not to be affected by his cheer and enthusiasm.

I’m trying to look at the holidays with happier eyes — his eyes.  I’m trying to bring the cheer back, finding things to be merry about this holiday season.  I put up the artificial tree we’ve had from around the time he was born, and he gamely decorated it with his Dad.  He wants to put up the Christmas cards we receive on our top stairwell as we had done in previous years.  I’m trying to make it special again so I can help him make happy memories.  I want him to open his presents, and look at me with eyes beaming, and I would know I have done right by him as his “delight”, his one true love, forever his “light” and never his “dark”. I should be so lucky — but no, it isn’t luck.. the truth of it is, I have been truly blessed.

Blog graphics - my little guy and I for "Holiday Reboot"