>All I want for Christmas is…


Last year, Marie, my mission partner, and I decided to spend our last Christmas in mission with our missionary friends, KD and Bonn in Nicaragua. We didn’t want to spend it alone in our apartment, and since it’s time to renew our visas, we grabbed the oportunity to spend the holidays there.

We were blessed to be adopted by a Filipino family whom Marie and I just met on that day they fetched us in the mall. It was really a treat for us to celebrate the holidays eating Pinoy delicacies and singing our hearts out during videoke time. At that moment, we were free from beans to eat and coffee to drink; we can eat whatever time of the day, speak tagalog without thinkng if they understand us or not, and just hang-out and relax without the pressure of people around us. I remembered the first day we stayed at that house, Tita Lydia prepared siopao and all of us ate like beggars who had siopao for the first time in their lives! (ohh.. that was sooo fun!)

On the 24th, we attended the Christmas vigil mass at a nearby parish. I was surprised to see that everyone were well-dressed! The women in skirts and the men in suit and ties! Imagine us going to that mass wearing something like in the picture.. we really felt out of place!haha At the end of the mass, we were asked to kiss the Baby Jesus. Even if the queue was long and our host were waiting outside, we still lined up to grab a moment with the birthday celebrant. And when it was my turn, I whispered a short prayer “Baby Jesus, my only Christmas wish is to celebrate my next Christmas with my family”.
*  *  *  *  *
Fast forward to present. Mom and I were having breakfast together and were talking about what to prepare for the Noche Buena. This was how our conversation went:

Mom: Anak, ano bang masarap na ihanda sa Noche Buena?
Me: EH di kung anong meron tayo from the groceries na na-receive niyo ni Dad. May ham na tayo. Pwede rin tayo mag tuna spaghetti, para maiba naman. Yun lagi kasi kinakain namin ni Marie sa Costa Rica.
Mom: Yun lang? nakakahiya naman ang onti ng handa natin.
Me: Kahit ano naman Mom ang ihanda natin, okay lang. Ang importante naman sama-sama tayo nagce-celebrate ng birthday ni Jesus. Teka Mom… may naalala ako!
Mom: Ano yun anak?
Me: Ang bait talaga ni Lord. Ang aga ng pamasko niya sa akin! Last Christmas, nag-wish ako kay Jesus na sana, ngayong pasko, makasama ko kayo. Awww…. I got the best gift! Spending Christmas with my family!

*Sabay hug kami ni Mom

*  *  *  *  *

This Noche Buena was different from the usual salo-salo that we used to have since we shared it with the lower household of my parents and their families. It was my brother and I who cooked for the dinner – I prepared Tuna Spaghetti and Refrigerator Cake and Kirby cooked Spicy Buffalo Wings, Hamon and Shanghai. The kids loved the spaghetti and the Buffalo wings even if it was spicy. They also recited the lyrics in the videoke (they don’t care if they’re in tune or not); the moms were chatting and the dads were having their shot. Everyone enjoyed the moment together. At exactly 12 midnight, we said the family prayer before everyone went home. Mom and Dad were very happy to be with their household members. My brother and I were very satisfied that they like the food we cooked. We had videoke till 3 am and just had family bonding.
*  *  *  *  *
This year was the first Christmas we spent without Lola Ipay. During our family prayer time with the whole Esteban Clan last Christmas, we offered a special prayer for her coz we really missed her. We even saved her space in the table and even calling her name around the house, as if she’s just there. We tried making Lolo happy by singing songs for him and making him laugh with our jokes. He even joined the boys in their Christmas drinking session and poured his heart out. But even though Lola wasn’t here to celebrate Christmas and other important events of our lives, what matters is that we, as one family, still continues to live our lives together, sticking with each other through thick and thin, and decide to be happy and enjoy the blessings that we receive from God.
*  *   *  *  *
Prayer: Dear Lord, I praise and thank you for allowing me to spend your birthday with my family. You have proven once more that no prayer is left unheard and nothing is impossible with you. I pray that you also bless the families who continue to celebrate your birthday together, and bless those who are far from their families during this time, that they may also feel the warmth of your love even if they’re far away home. May your birthday contnue to bring hope and unity to each and every family believing in you. In your most Holy Name, oh Jesus, through the intercessions of St. Joseph and Mother Mary, AMEN.

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