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Christmas wishes

“Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there’s something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can’t help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It’s an inspiring time of the year.” — Marlo Thomas

As the debris of Christmas eve, Christmas Day and all the lovely Christmas meals are cleared away, I turn to thoughts of Christmas as one often does during these times. Christmas is truly a great uniter…as the real reason for the season truly brings us together. God’s love truly unites us and binds us together, and it is fitting that the season that celebrates the embodiment of God’s love, His Son coming down to live amongst us, unites the world in a celebration of love, joy, peace and selflessness – because Christmas brings about a reason for us to think of others first instead of ourselves, of giving, instead of receiving, of forgiving and letting go.

My heart goes out to all those who have suffered a loss this Christmas. I can only pray that you feel God’s loving arms enfold you in the warmest and most comforting of embraces.

I hope all your Christmases were wonderfully blessed. I hope that all your Christmas wishes came true.

Allow me to say, that despite the sadness that some people may be going through, God will carry you through these difficult times, and I would still bravely greet everyone a very Merry Christmas!

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It’s Christmas!

Regent Street angels

“The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you. The cheer and goodwill of friends to you. The hope of a child-like heart to you. The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”
― Sherryl Woods, An O’Brien Family Christmas

To family and friends, both near and far, you are all thought of today, whether it is Christmas Day already where you are, or you are still rushing about taking care of last minute Christmas preparations, may you all have the happiest and the merriest of Christmases and only the choicest blessings are wished for you for the New Year!

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The prep

All I can hear right now is the Coca-Cola advert when I think about Christmas coming.  I’ve started to listen to Christmas carols on the journey to and from work to lift my spirits.  Christmas is a busy time at work (it’s nearly the deadline of submission of annual tax returns in the UK – don’t forget your tax return folks!  The deadline for online submissions is on 31 January  For more information check the HMRC website) but despite the busy time, admittedly,I get the holiday blues being so far away from home.  Listening to carols reminds me of the good times and makes me smile and feel better.  Two years in the running now I’ve been listening to Pentatonix.  They’re an a capella quintet from Arlington, Texas.  I love listening to them because the harmonies remind me of the chancel choir I used to be part of at home in the Philippines.

In an effort to be a little bit more organised this year, Alan and I have devised a (more organised) plan.  We’d cook or prep and freeze things that we can prepare ahead of time so that we didn’t have to rush around like headless chickens the night before Christmas.  This year, right now, we already have the following:

  • A shared Christmas shopping list (courtesy of this handy app Our Groceries, and yes, there’s a free version on iOS and Android!) with most of the items ticked off
  • A rough (adjustable) schedule of things to do which should finish the last Sunday BEFORE Christmas
  • Gift wrapping supplies (for last minute gift-wrapping)
  • Pigs in blankets made (we bought sausages and wrapped streaky bacon around them), wrapped up, and in the freezer
  • Stuffing mixed and placed in baking tins, wrapped up and in the freezer
  • Braised red cabbage done and in the freezer waiting to be thawed
  • Baking supplies in hand for baking projects
  • A large shopping bag already filled with nibbles (i.e. crisps, biscuits, crackers, candy, etc.)

With Christmas 12 days away, I’ve got the tree up, Christmas decorations all over the flat and the fridge stocked with Christmas things.  I’m not feeling as rushed as I usually do at Christmas.  All we have to do now is get the turkey and get the veg and figure out timings for cooking the turkey and the fixings!

I am soooooooo ready for Christmas!

are-you-ready-for-christmas-32710

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Christmas post-mortem

After early morning phone calls to catch a family lunch in Manila, a hurried breakfast after present opening, the mad dash to cook the turkey with all the trimmings, recovering from a food coma, watching the requisite Christmas TV shows (and the Queen’s Christmas message, of course!), and watching the regeneration of the new Doctor, I am now relaxing and taking advice from her Majesty.  She said that “we all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.”  And that’s exactly what I’m doing , pausing, reflecting and taking stock — while watching the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

Christmas has always been wonderful because it has always been magical.  It is a season filled with joy and wonder and most of all, love.  Because it is love that is the real reason for the season.  God loved us so much that He sent his Son to be with us.  And because of Jesus’ birth, we have Christmas and we have a wonderful excuse to celebrate (in a big way) faith, love, family, friends, lovely fattening food, and most of all life (with all its joys and sorrows).  I hope everyone had a smashingly spectacular Christmas filled with wonderful moments!  Merry Christmas everyone!

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Tis the season!

Christmas will always require celebration for me.  I grew up with my mum drumming into me how important Christmas is, how important it is to celebrate the occasion of Christ’s birth.  Growing up in church has made Christmas a more spiritual occasion.  It was all about the birth of the Saviour, the Word being made flesh.  It has always been the day of the year that reminds me most of God’s love, grace and mercy.  That’s why, no matter how small, Christmas had to be celebrated, there had to be a tree, there had to be decorations to celebrate it, there had to be presents to share and there had to be a Noche Buena at midnight!  There should always be an effort to be made for Christmas because all the gift giving and all the food preparation is part of the celebration.  It is one of , if not the most important days in the Christian calendar.

Whatever you do today, however you celebrate the season, whatever your faith, have a wonderfully happy and very blesssed Christmas!

Merry Christmas!