Christmas is the biggest holiday in the Philippines and is celebrated from the start of the -ber month, which is September, until the first Sunday of January. When I was younger, I remember my parents preparing lots of party dishes like spaghetti, pork barbecue, lechon (roasted suckling pig), lumpia (spring rolls), etc. for the family and our then factory workers to devour. I also recall the Christmas Eve parties at Aunt Meme’s house and I relished the moments catching up with my cousins and laughing at Uncle Jaime’s jokes.
Anyway, I don’t want to go on memory lane because this blog is about the present. My first Christmas as a Barnes. The first family Christmas was at Kyle’s paternal grandparents’ house in Jackson, Michigan – an hour away from our place. The house was fully decorated to match the holiday spirit from the plates to the hand towels. It’s crazy but what I’ve seen in Christmas movies before does exist. LOL.
His grandparents’ property used to be a Christmas tree farm so their yard has rows and rows of tall pine trees. It was a bit eerie (yeah, I get spooked easily) walking through the woods but it felt like I was in one of those Korean soap operas that my mom likes to watch. I could almost imagine Kyle and me throwing dried leaves at each other. xD
What makes a huge yard even cooler is getting to ride a quad around it. It was a rough terrain and the cold wind was blowing on our faces that made us wish it was summer, but we enjoyed the hilltop view of the pond with lots of trees surrounding it. So serene and tranquil you’d want to write a book there. Or just read if writing’s too hard. 🙂
One Family Christmas tradition is the Dirty Santa game. I’ve never heard of this game before because I’ve always done Kris Kringle, and boy, I’ve been missing a lot! Dirty Santa is definitely more scheming and dubious and might actually take the fun out of somebody if they are sore losers. However, it certainly adds more suspense and laughter when opening gifts.
How to play Dirty Santa:
1. Everyone brings a gift of a certain price range ($20-$25). Make sure it’s gift-wrapped so no one will know what’s inside!
2. Prepare pieces of paper with numbers 1 to 20 (or up to how many people there are) and ask people to draw a number. The higher your number the better!
3. Player 1 gets to choose the gift first. He can choose whatever gift he wants under the Christmas tree. (Note: A Christmas tree is not required for this game.) He now opens the gift in front of everybody.
4. Player 2 can choose to steal, yes, steal, Player 1’s gift or pick a new one.
5. The next players do the same. Either you steal or you pick a new gift.
I wasn’t so lucky at the first Dirty Santa we played because after semi-inspecting the sizes and weights of the gifts, I unluckily selected three cans of peanuts. Seriously. My fortune reversed on the next Dirty Santa at the other Family Christmas as I scored a $25 Outback gift card. Yeah! Who doesn’t love Outback? 🙂 The moral of this story is it’s better to steal someone’s loot than to open a mysterious box. 😉
Kidding aside, whether I took home candies or what-not, I just loved the thrill of not knowing what’s gonna happen next. The fun wasn’t on the gift itself but the process of selecting the gift with unknown contents or wondering whether someone would steal the gift you like. I seriously recommend this game to everybody who hasn’t done it yet!
Christmas eve was more intimate as Kyle and I went over to his parents’ house for dinner and a movie. Lorie hauled out her Christmas paraphernalias, and with the fireplace burning and the ground covered with snow, the Christmas charm and spirit abound.
Before I end this entry, I would like to take this chance to say thank you to Mike and Lorie and Kyle’s grandparents for the wonderful gifts they’ve given us. It wasn’t about the gifts, actually, but more of knowing that you’ve thought of us and cared about our needs as a newly married couple. My parents are delighted to know that you’re treating me as your own.
I guess that’s why this Christmas has become a lot more special to me because it’s our first Christmas together, and even though I’m away from my family, I got a gift of a new one to celebrate the holiday with.