Deck the trees, spread the love
CHERRY PIE PICACHE
Every year, I personally decorate our Christmas tree. For the past five years, we’ve been putting up a fresh tree at home. This year, my son Nio specifically requested a blue theme. So I had to change the ornaments and decor.
On Christmas Eve, we usually have noche buena at home with the family. Then we spend Christmas Day with the Tria family of my son’s father Gary. They look forward to my chicken galantina—a recipe handed down to me by my mom.
My wife Anna calls it “holly jolly kiddie Christmas tree” because the children—Tra, Al, Aeman and Ava—decorate it. Every year, the kids hang the ornaments. We celebrate Christmas and New Year at home, with family and friends. We have noche buena and media noche on the roof deck, because it affords us a beautiful view of the fireworks in Metro Manila.
For both noche buena and media noche, we have the usual barbecue and pancit, spaghetti with garlic bread, cakes, salad, nachos, red wine and sparkling white wine. Of course, we also have the walang kamatayang (enduring) hot chocolate—crushed tablea with vanilla. Rapsa (Delicious)!
The colors of my tree are red, green and gold. I’ve collected the ornaments through the years. I am very careful when storing them. I acquired some trinkets before Lexi was born—and she will turn 19 in January.
We don’t actually have noche buena. The highlight of Christmas Eve for us is attending church service. Then we go home and put on matching Christmas pajamas. We usually order pizza and watch Christmas movies until we all fall asleep.
I wake up early on Christmas Day, to start preparing whatever assignment I have for our annual family lunch at my mom’s in Makati. This year, I made roast turkey.
Before going to my mom’s place, my kids and I opened our gifts and took photos. We stayed at my mom’s until we were all happily tired and full of food and joy.
New Year is much simpler.
We gather 12 different kinds of round fruits—(a ritual) for prosperity. We wear shiny shoes and polka-dot clothes. We usually serve ham and cheese in pan de sal for media noche.
My kids and I hang out at home … then we make lots of noise and light child-friendly fireworks at midnight, to drive away the bad spirits. We also watch our neighbors’ fireworks display from the third-floor balcony of our house.
New Year’s Day is quiet time for us. My kids and I watch a Tagalog movie (at the Metro Manila Film Festival) and then I get a massage.
We observe simple, yet meaningful, traditions for the holidays—nothing fancy, just fun and brimming with love. What’s important is that we are together, healthy and happy and wearing matching PJs!
TIRSO CRUZ III
This year, my children Bodie, Djanin and TJ bought and put up the Christmas tree at home. My wife Lynn chose the theme, though. Purple is her favorite color, that’s why. We are a traditional and close-knit family. We just celebrate at home. The festivities start on Christmas Eve—with my wife cooking, my children preparing the games and then I take charge of the prizes.
We have the same activities on New Year’s Eve. It’s always fun for everyone! My wife prepares two different menus for noche buena and media noche.
I’ve gained so much weight, but that only shows how content I am, being with my family in New York.
We all decorated the tree together. Following tradition, we got a fresh tree and spruced it up with ornaments made by the kids when they were little. We simply added bright new ones, in happy colors, courtesy of Martha Stewart.
This year’s Christmas was really memorable as we made our own special dish to be shared during the family get-together. I cooked an easy one: Corned beef brisket with cabbage, potatoes and carrots. It’s eaten with mustard and horse radish on the side. Since we’re in the United States, we shared the cleaning duties as well.
At midnight, we opened the gifts. My daughter played the piano and sang songs for us. Then we listened to old vinyl records—The Beatles and Carole King’s “Tapestry,” which I found in a flea market. My daughter gave me an album by The Lumineers. The house was filled with music. We also played games, like charades.
The best way to celebrate the holidays is to spend it with loved ones.
On Christmas Day, we watched a movie, Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Quite inspiring. Then we went home and ate the leftovers. There was just so much food.
Not to forget, we also did Facetime with relatives on the West Coast.
That was how I celebrated this year, and it was one of the best Christmases ever.
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