Thursday, December 29, 2005


Christmas, for me, didn’t come when it usually does. As you all know (since I bitch-blogged it twice), this holiday began very beige for me this year; lackluster at best. Something was just not clicking. The shopping was often stressful and mundane, the Christmas card writing cramped my wrist barely 4 letters into my address book and the spirit of the holiday that we’re told to feel was not much more than a light mist creating a heavy dew that I knew I’d have to clean off my windshield the next morning. When I awoke on December 23rd, all I longed for was normalcy; that is, MY TRUE LIFE minus bows, candy canes and crowded malls threatening not only my credit but the little patience I had left. Living across the street from the Glendale Galleria, trying to get out of my driveway without cursing the unusual barrage of traffic on my street was quite the difficult task. My only revenge came in the form of yellow parking tickets tucked ever so kindly under each windshield wiper. It says NO PARKING on this side of the street dude! Anyhow, in the next few days, that spirit I’d been so lacking possessed me, and possessed me wholeheartedly.

On my first day of Christmas, my true life gave to me…A PARTY AND A PEAR TREE! Just kidding, no pear tree. I did get to party though. James, with his parentals in the Philippines, had a Christmas Eve-Eve gathering, complete with a potluck dinner from host and attendees, PLUS entertainment by a little known duo (namely he and Eric). I left much earlier than everyone else because I had to get up early for Misa de Gallo the next morning (Mass at 5 am! Mom and dad sang in the choir!), but not before I got my chance on the magic mic with Jaja where we scored a 100 with our version of “Please Be Careful With My Heart!” HELL YEAH! YOU AND ME JA! Hahaha…

On my second day of Christmas, my true life gave to me…80 FAMILY MEMBERS (mas o menos)…In lieu of our annual Christmas day festivities at Lolo Lando and Lola Ellen’s house in Palmdale/Lancaster, the Gondas decided that this year, we’d forego the house gathering and have a lunch buffet at the Sportsman’s Lodge in North Hollywood. Complete with DJ (my cousin, Joey) and program, the 5 hours we got to spend together on Christmas Eve-Day was no less satisfying than our typical Christmas Day celebrations of years past. After hours of scrounging through albums and cd’s of old and new photos, in addition to Tin’s PowerPoint expertise, our slideshow was a success and our family was treated to, pardon the cliché, a walk down memory lane; weddings, birthdays and so many gatherings we can’t even begin to remember the reasons for. We ended with a medley of Tagalog Christmas songs and, as corny as I know it sounds, it was one of my favorite moments. Singing carols isn’t a popular activity in my family, but something was very heartwarming about the impromptu guitar-strumming and song-leading.

After the party, we went to a Christmas vigil mass where our whole row fought to keep our eyes open and our heads in an upright position as the tiring day began to catch up with us. Why was that homily sooooo long? Ha ha…No matter, because although we were soaked in fatigue, something about singing “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Silent Night” rejuvenated our Christmas energy and we opened presents that night with joyful glee to match.

For just a few hours that Christmas eve, we as a family set aside our problems and reveled in each other’s love and support. I couldn’t think of any other way to celebrate a most sacred season.

On my third day of Christmas, my true life gave to me…A HOUSE OF LOVING VOICES…I spent most of the day going through all the pictures from the day before, in addition to cleaning up our chaotic room. That evening, however, not wanting to spend Christmas Day at home, we visited my aunt and uncle in Long Beach. Their house was FULL of their kids (my cousins) and THEIR kids (my nieces and nephews) and, well, let’s just say that the Bautista side, in comparison to the Gondas are less…tame. The volume of Bautista voices, especially in that house, is WOW. I can’t wait for our reunion in July!

On my fourth day of Christmas, my true life gave to me…4 FRIENDS I’VE MISSED…Instead of racking our brains for gift ideas, Cile, Iya, Rochelle and I decided that we’d just spend the day together – and wow did we ever! At noon, on the day after Christmas, the girls and I treated ourselves to an afternoon at Burke Williams Spa where we got massages and enjoyed the amenities available to patrons. Such amenities included a 160-degree sauna where we hung out after our massages to catch up on our lives (aka catch up on OTHER people’s lives, ha ha) as we sweated calories away. After the sauna we thought we’d check out the steam room, thinking that it’d just be a box of mist for us to sit in. But after having sat down for about 10 seconds, the room began to re-steam with this loud hissing sound, and, sitting in the stifling fog with ZERO visibility, we suddenly heard screaming. It was Rochelle! She was sitting right next to where the steam was coming out of! Freakin’ hilarious! We had ice cold towels on our faces but it was just way too hot in there and we left laughing our butts off! That wasn’t even the most amusing part of our day there. Chicks are walked around the spa baring all and the four of us, protected under our bathrobes, couldn’t help but look away, look at each other and then giggle every time a pair of boobs walked by. No inhibitions here!

After a few hours at the spa, we had lunch at the Grove’s Cheesecake Factory, where we flirted mercilessly with our young waiter, Zack (who reminded me of Michael J. Fox.), and feasted galore. Having burned calories walking up and down the row of shops, we headed to Coffee Bean then proceeded to Rochelle’s house where we watched TV, ate our leftovers, ordered pizza and caught up some more on each other’s lives. We talked and talked and talked, listening to dilemmas and laughing at each one’s anecdotal value, giving advice or egging each other on. It was so much fun!

I wish such days would run like a cycle in my life. It makes me want to wish that everyday were just like Christmas…

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