We have so much to be thankful for as 2015 came to a close. The #1 on our list is the arrival of our daughter to make us a family of three.
We attended our first Christmas party on the second weekend of December, hosted by good friends of my aunt.Being around other adults was refreshing, and at the same time exhausting with a baby in tow. I think Isla was too overwhelmed by the many people all around her. She barely ate anything, even though she was hungry. There was no “quiet space” anywhere in our friends’ apartment, so we had to leave a little over an hour after arriving to make sure Isla doesn’t starve. It was alright. We still managed to enjoy the food (no drinks for me!)
Our celebration was as simple as it can get. I prepared baked spaghetti, ham and fruit salad for Noche Buena, the Filipino tradition of starting the celebration of Christmas on Christmas Eve. In the Philippines, Christmas Eve is one big hoopla – whole roasted pig, Filipino dishes, and many many dessert. Traditionally, a family stays up until past midnight and shares the meal as they welcome Christmas (Yes, eating at 1AM is legit). The celebration continues the next day, either lunch or dinner.
With a 10-month old baby, we couldn’t stay up too late. HAHA! So we had Noche Buena at 8PM. Our baby woke up early on Christmas Day, so we had an early start on the opening of gifts before we went to Church at 11:30 AM.
Watching a 10-month old open gifts is too cute and too funny! Our Isla loves tearing paper, so opening her gifts wasn’t too difficult. What made it difficult was making her move on from one gift to another. I’d take her picture with a newly opened gift and then we’d move on to open the next. She’d make such a fuss because she wanted to play with her new toy!
For Christmas dinner, we went to another friends’ house to join them in their Christmas celebration. Another party with so many people! I had fun talking with other adults. Isla had fun playing with them, too. But she didn’t eat a single bite. I found a quiet corner, but she didn’t nurse much. She was just too excited to party! I think she’ll make a great host when she’s all grown up.
I was the only one awake when 2016 rolled in. Haha! We were all in bed by 11:30 PM, and my husband and Isla were snoring. I tried to stay awake to see the ball drop on Times Square. When it did, I turned off the TV for much needed sleep.
Hours before that, I cooked a special dinner of beef caldereta (beef stew in tomato sauce with bell peppers, potatoes and carrots) and baked bibingka (rice cake). I also prepared our lunch the next day, which was nilagang manok (chicken soup) with the bone of the ham boiled in it. It’s part of my husband’s family tradition when they celebrate the new year. It sounds strange, but it tastes surprisingly good.
We didn’t open a bottle of wine on new year’s eve. In 2013, we opened a bottle of white wine and I ended up finishing the bottle. I couldn’t do that this year since I’m still nursing our baby.
We celebrated the first day of 2016 in church and heard mass. After that, we just went home, took family pictures and enjoyed the nilagang manok.
The one thing we weren’t able to do this year was have our picture taken with the Rockefeller Christmas tree. Since 2012, my husband and I went there as part of our Christmas celebration. With a baby, it’s extra challenging to take the bus and the subway to go to midtown Manhattan to get those pictures taken. So we decided not to go. We did have our pictures taken with Santa Claus, so that’s something worth sharing!
Our Christmas and New Year celebrations will change over the course of the next few years as our baby grows up (and when another baby comes along!) One thing is certain – We will celebrate December as one strong family.
May you and your family have a blessed 2016!