Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas story and some food

The preparation for Christmas Eve dinner begins early in the morning. I am reminded of the Christmas spirit when I see my family cooking together for Christmas Eve dinner and kids eating, playing, and laughing around. In the kitchen, ingredients are laid on the counter, recipes are taken out from the drawers, and jobs are delegated among the women. My grandma heads the kitchen. She would tell her children to peel, slice, dice, and chop while the men would b-bque in the backyard. By noontime, the house smells great. The smell engages our appetite for some nilaga, sinigang, kaldereta, kare-kare, pinakbet, pansit, tri-tip, and sometimes, turkey. The kids would start eating while the adults continue cooking, tasting the food every now and then to pass their hunger.

Dessert is my favorite part of the meal. Nobody has perfected dessert making in my family. Sometimes, we would have leche flan and bilo-bilo or ginataan. My uncle remembers his childhood when he offers to make leche flan and my grandma replicates her famous bilo-bilo for the family. Oftentimes, instead of baking, when we are short of time, we would have pumpkin pie, ice cream cake, and brownies from the bakery shop.

While adults are fretting over the sinigang if it is sour enough for my aunt, kids are in the backyard playing with whatever they can find. They use their imagination to foster their creativity to think and play. They pretend they are superheroes, adults, mentors, teachers, gardeners, fisherman, and a character from the TV show “Naruto.” When Ihear kids playing in the backyard, pretending, creating, and innovating conventional games, I am reminded of Christmas season once again.

Right before dinner the kids would wash up and wear their pretty, sometimes new clothes. Some members of my family try not to spoil their kids by buying them new clothes for every occasion. However, as much as they do not want spoiled kids, some succumb into their weakness of wanting to see their children wear nice outfits. Adults who have been cooking all day long also change into something nice for Christmas Eve dinner.

At dinnertime, the house is filled with visitors; some are relatives and others are friends. Christmas would not be complete without prayer of thanksgiving for all blessings we have received and without greeting each other a Merry Christmas. We would never let the food get cold, so we would pass the plates around and eat delicious food all night. After eating and filling our stomachs with tasty food, we would turn on the karaoke and sing love songs, lively songs, and Christian songs. Some titles on the list are “Summer Nights,” “I will survive,” “Release Me,” “YMCA,” “Bed of Rose,” and “Dancing Queen.” After a round of songs, we would head back to the table and eat again.

For me, Christmas is all about food, family, and children. It is about being together with the people who listen to you, tell you what to do, agree with you, think with you, play with you, imagine with you, sing with you, and eat with you. Christmas is connecting with other people. We share our cooking style, our ideas, our creativity, and our talents and through our interaction, we manifest the love of God to others and we become aware of what God is doing in their lives and we realize that God has not been absent but has been interacting with his creation all along. I am reminded of the reason for the season when I get together with my family and friends. I see the image of God in each person redeemed through the first advent of Christ two thousand years ago.

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