I did not grow up observing Christmas. Suffice to say that due to complicated religious reasons, I was raised a different way, and only ended up actually celebrating the season in the mid 90’s. Before then, it always felt weird saying “Merry Christmas” back, and by the time we began celebrating it — in largely awkward, off ways — I was too old for godparents, and only saw angpao when I was extremely lucky.
Up to this day Christmas feels a bit underwhelming for me. 13th month pay aside, I usually find myself annoyed by the traffic and the crowds, and terrified of the temporary escalation of the crime rate. Plus there’s the pressure of trying to think of gifts for family and friends while at the same time dreading the nth uninspired gift I’d receive in return (this year wasn’t so bad though).
But after an eventful Christmas Eve — from family in Tarlac from my wife’s side to a potluck dinner at my aunt’s on my mom’s side — I decided that it would be nice to at least take advantage of the holiday itself and spend some quality time with my wife and daughter.
So we braved Amy’s low grade fever, and with a stock of paracetamol and Cool Fever, we headed to U.P. Diliman.
Our first stop was for lunch at a place called Soru Izakaya along Maginhawa, which was one of the few open that time. A bit pricey, but the servings were large enough and the food was pretty good — enough to warrant a mutual agreement between myself and the missus for a return trip in the future.
We spent the rest of the day at the Sunken Garden in U.P., put down a mat, and just watched Amy behave like she wasn’t sick at all, eating ice cream and laughing and giggling and running around the place. I took the most photos here, grateful for the foresight to bring my DSLR and a trusty 50mm.
Looking back, I remembered the dates I had with my wife-then-girlfriend here, both of us largely subsisting on allowances, trying to keep our grades up, dreaming of the future. In spite of all that came in between then and today, I’m glad I ended up where I did. Such a profound blessing, family. And it is all made possible by grace, which called for Christ to be born only to die to pay for the sins of humanity.
Sola Gratia. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, folks.
Sometimes you come across a moment, and you just can’t help but take a picture. Here’s my 2-year old nephew, Paolo, entranced by a model train setup inside Petite France in Seoul, South Korea. He’s usually all over the place, running around, like many children his age. And yet he spent a few minutes here, quiet and still, just watching the train go around the set.
Having a 2-year old myself (who is just a month younger), I’ve come to appreciate these moments when I can see children exercising their innocence. They’re all growing up in a hard world, and I’m grateful (and envious to some degree, too) to witness them seemingly set apart from all that, and for a few minutes, existing in a time and place where all is good and well and magical.