It’s January 11. Where did the holidays go? With all the Christmas trimmings packed away, it’s hard to remember we were all in that zone. It just came and went.
Before we all get fully back into the thick of things, please allow me to share with you our little Christmas. We decided to do it differently this year. No Noche Buena, no big gifts, no tinsel, no Christmas trees. Well, we had all those bells and whistles in Manila. But a few weeks before Christmas Eve, we all decided to spend the actual Christmas in a quiet and secluded beach house — the same one we go to every year in Batangas. I am forever grateful to the owners of the house for being so generous in lending us their home.
It was hard to come to the decision — skipping Noche Buena with my relatives, Santa not visiting the beach house (but he did drop his gifts for the kids in our house), not being home on Christmas Eve, and actually packing up our entire household – a few gifts, menu and all. But I figured it would be such a nice treat to celebrate Christmas in a very silent and basic way, with my precious brother-in-law’s full attention on our three kids. After all, he is really all the family we’ve got here in the Philippines.
So we redefined Christmas our way. And it turned out to be the most wonderful and most memorable Christmas ever.
No filter, no tripod. Just the magic hour when we arrived. (And my Olympus OMD).
Sophia couldn’t help it, she jumped in.
This post has a gazillion photos. Click “More” if you’d like to see our family vacation.
We arrived just in time for sunset. Stella fell asleep and didn’t see the beach til the next day.
The local kids sang Christmas carols for us. Soph and Lily gave them treats.
Mommy hugs with Lily and Stella. But Stella wouldn’t wake up.
After dinner that night, being a Sunday, my brother in law celebrated Holy Mass for our household.
Soph did the readings.
The next morning, the kids got up early and ran to the beach first thing.
I watched them from the deck while having barako coffee. We never leave home without a French press. Barako coffee is great. And muscovado sugar is a must. Good thing we got this pressie from Eon.
Mornings are magical here. The tide goes down so low, the entire cove is one shallow bathtub.
Stella got over feeling icky about black sand. She never wore footwear those four days.
The never perfect jump shot.
The three littles off on their own.
Sophia is happiest when running freely.
Back at shore, the kids played with their local friends. Every year we bring them toys and goodies. We’ve been going to the same beach for 8 years.
The local kids know my kids. Last year they presented Sophia with a mini aquarium, but we had to put the creatures back at sea.
Then they went back to the water. It was pretty much like this for four days.
We had catch of the day.
Then we did some crafting with Fr. Dennis.
We made 50 neoprene wreaths to giveaway as tokens.
Soph discovered basket weaving. Her yayas taught her.
I love that we have the most creative yayas. I indulge them with materials all year round.
Then we played bingo with the kids.
Lily and I were the bingo masters.
Can I say, bingo by the beach. Fun.
By night time we treated the kids to an animated movie. My BIL brought his projector. It was nice.
Then it was Christmas morning the next day.
It was a lovely sunrise.
We took our annual family feet portrait. Just because.
People always ask me if there is a resort in this place. There isn’t any that I know of. I don’t think tourism would thrive here because the sand is so black and the cove is too shallow – reasons why we love it here so much.
We left all their presents at home except for two small ones for each girl. It was nice to see them value simple presents for a few days. When we got home, they attacked the tree.
The kids got me my new favourite scent – Artemisia by Penhaligon’s.
Patrick got me the sunglasses I wanted.
My BIL – perhaps the greatest gift our family could have. People always come up to me to say how lucky we are that he is our brother. It’s so true. We are lucky!
Christmas brunch – rustic, simple, Filipino.
By afternoon Fr Dennis said mass for the neighbours.
Stella wanted to be with her uncle. So she went. And he let her.
We escaped Christmas in the city.
But found the true meaning here.
The kids gave gifts to the other children — the wreaths they made and goodies we packed.
Group shot. We’ve known these kids for almost 8 years.
That night, Patrick made a bonfire. And it was huge.
We waited a bit til we could roast marshmallows. Orbs anyone?
The next morning… the same thing. The kids hit the beach in their jammies.
More walking on water with their uncle.
Our last day. Then Fr Dennis would go back to his community.
Soph and Lily have a hard time leaving this paradise.
And so do I.
Grateful for the beautiful memories made again.