Friday, December 26, 2008


There is quote by Dag Hammarksjold, late United Nations Secretary-General that I have written on a post-it and stuck on my desk where I can see it every day:

"Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."

It will serve as my mantra for 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas to me starts on Thanksgiving Day when I dutifully take out the Christmas cards, review and update my address book and then start writing my messages.  On a regular year, these cards would be sent out just before I leave for my flight to Manila.  This year, when I opted out of a long holiday trip, the timelines are more relaxed.

And as Christmas day comes closer, the social calendar gets busy.  Holiday parties at work, dinner dates with friends and friends of friends - people who become my family away from my own.

Funny how this year I thought I had everything and everyone covered but this week I still ended up doing some frantic last minute shopping, mostly for kids.  There were a lot of great deals, though which makes me worry that these stores would have now way of surviving if this early they are selling off their wares at less than 50% off - rates you'd often see in January.  K-B Toys is closing, my favorite noodle house on 88th is closed and there will be fewer Circuit City stores without the one on 86th.  These are the signs of the times and it is worrying.  But with the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack playing in the ipod stuck to my ears, I finished all gift-giving endeavors and sat down to cheerfully wrap everything with the expertise I learned from watching the staff at Rustan's and Shoemart in Manila.

On Christmas Day I will host lunch and I have finalized my menu : roasted cornish hens will be my main dish (mini turkeys?!?).  We will also be hosting post-Christmas dinner on Friday night at my friend's house in NJ but to minimize the stress, we are ordering the whole meal for that one.

I am excited about this Christmas.  I have the fresh fragrant tree in my apartment lit up in bright colors and giving me my worst asthma attack in my lifetime (who else can be allergic to Christmas trees???). There was snow for a while but my hopes of a white Christmas was just shot down by the forecast of rain on the 25th.  And most of all, I am excited about kicking back and just relaxing and taking things easy.  No stress, no drama.

I wish you all a very very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year in 2009, from my family in the Philippines and myself, with all our love.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today was Day 1 of Winter 2008.  Since two days before, on Friday we've had four inches of snow in the city which eventually turns to slush and ice in some areas where it doesn't melt soon enough.  The good side is that it feels Christmasy - the trees are dusted with white and add the effects of the crisp chill in the air, and the ambiance created by the shop windows, the carols that are sung everywhere and the cheerfulness and joy that seem to radiate from everyone.

I am hoping for a white Christmas which I have been told is very rare.  Regardless, with snow or without, I am looking forward to next week where I will host drinks and dinner with friends and lunch with some family members.  My apartment is decked for the holidays and I have gifts under the tree that is giving me some nasty allergies.

A New York Christmas for me is as rare as a white Christmas maybe but perhaps this year I will have both, if the spirit of Christmas will make dreams come true.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree...

On Sunday morning while the arctic winds blew across the tri-state with much gusto unseen before, I stood with in the middle of a farm in New Jersey to pick out my Christmas tree. And before me they stood - rows and rows of Douglases, Balsams, Nobles, Grands and Canaan firs. And then the spruces. After much comparing (about a half hour of mental technical evaluation) I set my mind on getting a Norway spruce. And then settled on a Colorado blue spruce because I liked the green-gray color (not really blue I think). But then I liked the denseness of the foliage of the Douglas fir and compared to the other trees we saw, it didn't have the 'bald spots'. But then I stood there and couldn't make up my mind and for the meantime, my companion was now grumpy because he noted he has started to grow a beard while I was making up my mind.

Two hours later, both hungry we decided that this was a decision that couldn't be rushed (and then he rolls his eyes). Maybe, I debated, for the same price I could get an artifical tree instead and be more earth friendly. Earth-friendly, my friend debated, did not apply to the use of plastic trees. I reiterated however that my choice did not involve the death of a real tree and that my artificial tree could actually resurrect for the many future Christmases ahead. Not necessarily in my apartment though since I was more like imagining of putting it in storage (and future use) at my office.

And so we took a break to clear my mind and to warm our tummies. Over bowls of nice steamy Chinese noodle soups, we deliberated once more which tree would suit my apartment most. I wanted a tall slim one so that it wouldn't take much floor space. I wanted at least a 7-foot tall tree because I had 12-foot high ceilings.

"Your qualifications sound more like a boyfriend checklist rather than a tree", he was shaking his head. I paused and re-examined the brief of my requirements: tall, slim, full foliage with no bald spots, a nice fragrant smell, and most important - longetivity, that it would last through New Year's eve 2009.


Pictures (left): parts of the garland that decorates the entrance to my apartment. Yes, I am decorating in blue and white theme this year. And those are snowflakes!!!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dashing through the snow

The first snowfall of 2008 found me finishing off my Christmas shopping and yes, 3 weeks before D-day, I am done (fingers crossed).  With the  financial crunch I have resolved to change my gift giving strategy.  And a lot of people will also be getting Christmas cards this year and a lot of warm kind wishes. The boxes of Papyrus Christmas cards are now out and waiting to be addressed, stamped and sent off.

I am not making any long travel this season although plans are in the offing to spend the stretch from Christmas to New Year's in New Hampshire and then to have some tropical sun.  I am also insisting on hosting Christmas dinner at home in my apartment, though, something I have not done in a while.  Yes, the masochist in me cannot wait to draw up the menu and then to work the stove and the oven to come up with a wonderful meal.  Of course there is nothing more satisfying than consuming my delicious meal with friends and great wine.

It is wintry and Christmas is in the air.  The carols are played everywhere you go in the city and shop windows are again so beautiful.  Of course, tourists in the city have multipled in numbers so that pedestrian traffic in the high tourist areas are almost impossible - reason I stay away from them.

Excited, and definitely looking forward to a white Christmas.  I ouldn't even mind a blizzard on Christmas! LOL