Christmas Days of Yore

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Last night, as I lie still on our bed trying to sleep, I imagined the Christmases that were. Christmas past. I just seemed to me that Christmas seems to lose its attraction with every passing year. I pondered on whether the saying that Christmas is only magical to kids was true after all.

I remembered when I was probably nine years old. It was November and already we had Christmas decorations strewn all over the household. The Christmas tree was already assembled (yes, these were plastic pine trees as these trees don’t actually grow in abundance in the Philippines) and decorated, tinsel was taped along the walls of the living room, fake mistletoes (again, mistletoes are rare in the Philippines) hang from the ceiling, a Parol (a Christmas lantern hung on the ceiling outside the front of the house) and my Mom, Grandma and Grandpa would play Christmas music whenever given the chance.

I flipped through the Christmas LP albums (no CDs yet or at least, we couldn’t afford it then) we had and look at the album covers. I remembered looking at one of the Filipino Christmas albums where it depicted an old Church lit from the inside in a cool Christmas night. The midnight mass just finished and people are starting to leave for home to have their Buena Noche (a Filipino midnight dinner/feast on Christmas Eve) while others stay behind buying putobumbong (a ricecake-like food traditionally sold during the Christmas season outside churches)at the food stalls nearby. There were houses made of nipa and bamboo nearby with parols hanging by their windows.

I remembered feeling nostalgic when I saw this picture even though I was too young to feel nostalgic about anything at the time. I mean, I didn’t really saw a rural Christmas-time setting before then.

I felt the same way when I saw the cover of an album of an American Christmas album. This time, it was a busy early 20th century Londonesque street covered with snow. There are a lot of people making last minute Christmas shopping and the street was filled with Christmas decoration.

Recalling this memory of 20 years ago, I felt sad. What made me even sadder were the other things that made Christmas a very happy and joyous holiday for me.

During my pre-teen years, I remember eating Noche Buena not only with my immediate family, but with my aunties and my cousins (my Mom’s sisters and their children). We would wait for midnight and count down to the last second then greet everybody a “Merry Christmas.” In years to come, we would still have these Christmas-time family reunions even if they weren’t done on Christmas eve.

I guess ultimately, in the Philippines, from what I remembered while I was there, there’s this great anticipation for the coming of Christmas. People would start having this feeling right after another traditional Filipino holiday called Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) or Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead – what we call All Saints Day – 1/11 and All Souls Day 2/11 collectively).

You’d hear Christmas music being played on the local pop stations. You’d see the city streets and buildings all gawdily decorated with red and green. You’d see the street-side shops that sell the parols. You’d hear the kids singing Christmas carols outside starting on the 1st of December (sometimes even earlier).

Well, it’s nothing at all like that here in Australia. There is no feeling of anticipation (at least for me). It’s like the 21st of December today and Christmas is a few days away yet it’s just like any other day. And Christmas vacation would be like any other one week vacation. The joy I used to experience around this time of year is markedly absent.

I only wished we did have the money and the vacation leaves to be able to go home to the Philippines and spend Christmas there. Maybe next year, it will actually be a “merry” Christmas for us.

Maybe next year.

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Published in: on December 21, 2004 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Whassup?

The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new. Reason being that I’m very busy in the office trying to finish some work before the Christmas holidays. Then, when at home, I barely have the time to surf and write because of other stuff I’m doing.

I did try to draw something like I said I would in my previous post but everything I draw comes out as complete crap. I feared that I lost my ability to draw! Well, not really as I was able to doodle something decent just the other day using a ballpoint pen while waiting for my character to respawn in Counter-strike: Source.

At work, I just finished one of the enhancements assigned to me. The enhancement will allow the software to read the barcode reading device, process all the data it contains and insert it into the stocktakes data tables in the system. It took a bit of doing but I’m finally done. Now I just have to do the next enhancement which is a variation of the former enhancement but deals with receiving of product orders. Isn’t that great?

At least I’ll just have to endure three more days before the start of my Christmas vacation which will be from 25th of December to the 3rd of January. This year’s will probably the shortest Christmas vacation I’ve ever taken in my whole life. Not much I can do about it as I recently started with this company and I do not have a lot of vacation leave days accrued yet.

Due to the relative short vacation, we decided not to go too far away from home for the holidays. We just figured that it would be more cost effective if we could take a longer vacation if we did go somewhere far from Melbourne. And since we’re a little strap for cash, too, we are just going to go visit the famous Victorian Great Ocean Road which is a long coastal road along the south coast of Victoria (the state where Melbourne is located).

We’re going to stay at Portside Motel along near the western end of the Road at Port Campbell for two nights. We’ll be driving to the Road on Sunday the 26th and return on the Tuesday the 28th. Although I’m looking forward for some nature sightseeing, I’m not too stoked about driving for three hours. Good thing Raquel knows how to drive now. I can let her take the wheel while along the freeway between Melbourne and Geelong. That’s half-an-hour right there.

I’m sure that there’ll be a lot of Kodak moments on the trip. Heck, there are a lot of places right here in the city I’d like to take photos of, specially with the Christmas decor and all. So, Raquel and I bought a new digital camera: a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P73. We looked at other digital cameras but decided that this model has the most features and/or better execution of common features. To top it all, it looks cooler and costs cheaper than the other models.

I can’t help but compare this to our older digital cameras though (one Kodak and one Olympus). The older cameras were big and cumbersome to tote around. The older cameras take forever to take one photo. Okay, I exaggerate but it’s a big problem specially when we want to have our picture taken by a stranger. Most people would treat the old digital cameras like a 35mm camera and point the camera at us then click then move. To make the pictures non-blurry with these old models, you have to click then hold still for a second or two while the camera does its processing.

The new camera is small and sleek. Takes pictures real quick like a 35mm. Capable of using a macro lens to focus on small things up close. Uses USB to connect to the PC for fast data transfer. So, in conclusion, I’m quite pleased with the new camera. It’ll sure come in handy when we go on our long road trip.

During the weekend, we went to a factory-outlet-type warehouse hoping to buy some cheap but decent clothing and/or shoes. The stuff being sold were cheap all right, but not of decent quality. Later on, we decided to just try the nearby shopping centre called Highpoint. It’s a fairly big-named mall in Melbourne that we haven’t visited before so we figured that since it’s just a few minutes away, we should go see it.

The place is huge. Although, I think now that SM Megamall (in the Philippines) is still probably bigger. Anyway, it’s still big compared to the enclosed malls I’ve been here in Australia. It’s about more than thrity minutes away by car from where we live at St Kilda East. But I can see ourselves going there again as it has the first ever Kenny Rogers Roasters branch in Australia.

Well, Kenny Rogers Roasters isn’t that great a restaurant but it’s one of those restaurants that is quite common back in the Philippines. And I’m happy about anything that reminds me home (like the existence of TGI Fridays in Chapel Street).

We didn’t eat at the Roasters though because we already had lunch by the time we got to Highpoint. We’ll just eat there some other day. Well, at least I was able to buy myself a new pair of casual shoes and outdoor shorts while we were at that mall so all the trouble of driving there wasn’t all for nothing.

So now I’m all geared up for that summer road trip.

Published in: on December 21, 2004 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment