Merry California Christmas

Back home in the Philippines we have started a Christmas tradition with the whole family on my mother's side. It includes my grandparents, my mom and her siblings and all their children. We all go to this hidden Tagaytay vacation home that we always book for Christmas eve until the 26th. We play games and sing karaoke all night. When the clock strikes 12 we hug and greet each and everyone Merry Christmas. We end the night by exchanging and opening our presents.

The next morning we take our family photos, attend mass and eat at a hillside restaurant. That has been our Christmas tradition for four years already since 2008. Last year marked my first ever Christmas away from home and family since I was... born.

tagaytay christmas
My family celebrating Christmas at Tagaytay

I was blessed to have a very kind Godfather whose welcoming family took me in for six months. During the duration of my stay they have introduced me to American holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Christmas would be a fitting end to my California getaway. It was a celebration of Christ's birth, new friendships formed and a happy farewell for me because I was flying back home on the 28th.

San Francisco
My US family, my brother Borj, Ninong Jun and Tita Madel at San Francisco

First was the setting up of the Christmas decorations three weeks before. Unlike in the Philippines where Christmas decorations are set up right after Halloween and taken down after the New Year. In the US, or at least in the neighborhood I lived in, decorations are put up two to three weeks before or days after the Thanksgiving which seemed to be a more important and celebrated holiday than Christmas.

Tita Del took out the Christmas tree and all the ornaments that have been sitting on the storage for a couple of years.
decorating the christmas tree
Decorating the house and the Christmas tree
This is the result of Tita Del, my brother and I's hardwork. We were very pleased with what we accomplished.
Christmas decorationsBut not as pleased as the show-off neighbor across the street who placed giant displays of a snowman, Santa Clause and elves on his front yard.
On Christmas Eve, we started the day by driving to the City of Industry to set up a small gathering for Ninong Jun's employees. He runs a medical courier business in LA, San Diego and San Francisco. His employees deliver medicines from the pharmacy to the hospitals and nursing homes 24/7. Being in the field of hospital and medicine his business never closes, not even on Christmas day. So we decided to squeak in a small celebration for his LA unit on the parking lot of the Pharmacy during lunch break. We asked all of his employees to attend-- morning, noon and midnights shifts.

The RX Courier Services Inc. at Los Angeles
Jonathan, Mark and Paul-- the resident dispatchers. They are the ones who arrange the schedules and routes of the drivers. They are a bunch of crazy guys who I've grown closest to because they work inside the Pharmacy which Tita Del and I routinely visit 3 times a week.
 Gifts were raffled off to 7 employees. Lawrence was one of the lucky names drawn.
After the gathering, the employees went back to work and we went to the mall to do some last minute shopping. After wrapping all the presents we head to the Burgos' residence at Cerritos to celebrate Noche Buena with a group of Filipino families that get together every year.

I am with Tita Del's sister and cousin. They have been my dear Aunts in LA who spoiled me althroughout my stay. The one beside me is Nicole, the pretty daughter of Tita Nimfa.
Just like how we celebrate back home. We also played games, eat tons of food, drunk booze and had boatloads of fun.
filipino christmas at california
Filipino Christmas at Cerritos California
On the left side was a photo supposed to be with the girls but some goofy photobombers appeared. On the right are the only three kids present on the party.
This is Nicole, she flew in from Sacramento for the holidays. She is so sweet and accommodating. She likes being tan and is already two tones darker than me and still wants more-- a welcome change from the ladies back home who are obsessed with being fair skinned.
The man of the house who I fondly call Mr. B. He is Nicole's dad and their family hosted the Christmas Party. I owe majority of my adventures and wonderful memories of California to the hospitable Burgos fam. They always took time to take me out to see the tourist spots on the weekends. They are best family to be stuck with on a long drive.
It was 12 o clock and officially Christmas. Everyone gathered around and exchange gifts and greetings.
I am here with my younger brother Borj who arrived in November. We spent two full months together making each other crazy. But since its Christmas we gamely posed and acted like happy siblings. Kidding! Of course we love each other, you know like Tom and Jerry.
After exchanging presents and before leaving, the adults were served tea and coffee at the kitchen bar stool. This is the part where I was thanking and saying goodbye to my aunts and uncles who I now miss dearly.

We went home at around 2 am. I skyped for a while with my family in Manila and immediately dozed off. I needed all the energy I can get because the next day my brother, Nicole, Natasha and I are spending Christmas at Disney Land!
That's how I spent my Christmas last year. I am packing as I post this because this year I'm back with my family and our Tagaytay Christmas tradition lives on.

Happy Holidays travelers. May you have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are!

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