Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Celebrating Christmas with Family

Sunday, December 29, 2013

OLA: Celebrating Christmas with Family

the reason for the season!
It was Christmas 2010 when we last celebrated the Season with family, in Seattle, Washington.  So now that my sister Cherry and her husband Rick have relocated to San Diego, California (it is a 6 ½ hour drive from Phoenix), we are taking the opportunity to celebrate together at their home. And, since Krishna, my first apo (grandchild)has also relocated to Santa Monica, California (only 2 ½ hours from Cherry) and she is off from her work Dec. 25 to 28, she is able to join us!
traditional git-giving before Noche Buena
Krishna and Zan at karaoke
We left at 9 am of Dec. 24. When we reached Los Angeles, we stopped at Seafood City, the chain of groceries in the US that caters to Filipinos living in large metropolitan centers, to get the traditional queso de bola (aged Edam cheese ball), a mainstay in the Filipino Noche Buena, midnight meal on the Eve of Christ’s birth. Then we picked Krishna up at Santa Monica’s Salon de Nesou where she got off work at 5 PM. We proceeded to her apartment to pick up her bag and have a hurried dinner.
skype session captures three Aberions in 2 states
We reached Cherry's home at around 8:30 pm after passing an Albertson's to pick up some hot chocolate mix, another traditional drink. After some Karaoke songs and a skype session with the Aberions in Seattle, we held the exchange of gifts over the Christmas table. Finally, at around 11 pm, we had a taste of the traditional Filipino Noche Buena. Bill added a European touch with the Christmas stollen, challa, and potica, breads we picked up at a European bakery in Phoenix.

Christmas Day started with left-overs from Noche Buena. By 10 AM Bill and I were at the Santa Sophia Catholic Parish where a beautiful Nativity Scene greeted us. The homily was extra special with this message taken straight from the Catholic Catechism: ‘Christmas is the marvelous exchange of God’s transcending love made accessible to those on bended knees.’  Jesus is the reason for the Season.

Chefs Cherry and Carol
the clan!
Cherry had also invited Ate Tesing, my mom’s niece, her husband Kuya Ute, their children Mildred and Joe and their families, and her brother Polly to Christmas Day Dinner. So soon after we got back we watched a hilarious Redbox movie, Worlds End, then the cooking resumed. Cherry prepared her beef caldereta, chicken macaroni soup, and apple pie while I made the popular Filipino dessert and tradition, ube haleya from purple yam, milk, and sugar. 
mano po Lolo!
By 7 pm they all arrived with green chicken enchilada casserole, pancit bijon (Filipino noodles), kakanins (Filipino rice cakes), and pumpkin pie. The main and the dessert tables were both overflowing with food. A lot of updates and banter went around and then there was the traditional gift-giving. Then the kids lined up for gifts of cash from Lolo Bill after the respectful mano (blessing).

The following day we took Krishna to Seafood City to pick up her month’s supply of food and to Macy’s to buy dark glasses, the Christmas gift from her godmother and Aunt Claudine. When we got home we had a final round of left-overs from the dinner party on Christmas Day. Early the next day we left Cherry’s warm home and hospitality to apply for a new Filipino passport as a dual citizen at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles.

my first apo (grandchild) Krishna
at the Consulate
We stood in line from 9:45 to 12:45 am only to find out that I, as a senior citizen, did not have to! The guard was charming when he said, ‘But Ma’am, you don’t look it! ‘! That made my day! It was fine...we enjoyed a Japanese lunch nearby while waiting. But then it was slowly revealed that the day had been a series of mistakes by that time. Bill’s cell phone that was being charged and Krishna’s and my bags of groceries from Seafood City were all left at Cherry’s kitchen counter! Not fine! It would have been better if Bill didn't have to drive an additional five hours!
a Japanese lunch with Krishna
the entrees
the desserts
So after I filed my application and had my biometrics taken, we went back to San Diego, retrieved all evidence of senior moments, and made a U turn to Los Angeles. We stayed in Redlands, California that night, an hour and a half from Santa Monica and four and a half hours away from Phoenix. We got back to our RV around 2 pm, facing a new round of celebrations with friends for the New Year!


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