Monday, December 27, 2010

Wheat Filled Life

The taller, the greener and the stronger the wheat sprouts until Christmas Eve -the more prosperous your life will be for the coming year. At least this is what they believe as part of the Christmas holiday tradition in Croatia, Hungary and some other parts of Europe who have been planting wheat at this time of the year in honor of St. Lucia. More than just blessings and prosperity, a sheath of wheat symbolizes new life, growth and resurrection.

I never knew this before until I saw my husband planting wheat on a clay plate for the first time- I was awestruck. Since I come from Asia, where countries prefer rice than bread, wheat is not a common plant to see (not until recently as they’re promoting wheat grass as a nutritional drink in Malaysia and Philippines.)

As I gapingly watched my husband embedded the clay plate with pieces of cotton, (yes, not soil but damped cotton) before he sprinkled wheat seeds on top, my stupefied face looked like a 3 year old girl’s first time experience to see how icing is spread on a cake with unblinking eyes.

Few days after the planting ceremony that includes making sure the cotton is damped all the time, keeping them at room temperature and exposing the wheat with sufficient light needed-lo and behold, fresh apple green colored grass started to germinate.

I didn’t know how I was supposed to react over a natural plant growth sequence- you plant then ofcourse it will grow. So what’s the big deal?

My husband gingerly said, “Congratulations, lovi, your wheat grew just right before Christmas Eve.” At the back of my mind I was like, “Ok so what?” But after my husband told me about the significance of the growth spurt on Christmas Eve – he explains that the noticeable increase of height of the grass bespeaks of how fruitful and progressive my life would be next year.

Then that was when I started to literally jump and cheered a resounding “yehey, yes! yes! and yes!” I admit -my over reaction was more like the wheat predicted that I’d be winning lottery next year (ok that’s quite an exaggeration but you’ll never know.)
However, if you want to see a dramatic growth before the big day, make the most out of your nurturing skills few days before the 24th. Ok I know that’s partly cheating but well…ok erase that part.

Just hope against hope that you’ll see a growth spurt before Christmas Eve. And you'll be all set for the coming year.

Everyone is excitingly looking forward to the breaking of a new year on Friday. With full anticipation of blessings, prosperity, good luck, positive energy and perfect alignment of stars on your favor, we somehow plant wheat inside our hearts to embrace a new life for a new year with fervor.

I wish everyone especially my faithful blog readers abundant blessings, Christ centered and a wheat filled life for 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Few days away from today, a new year is about to begin. As I mull over how each day of my 2010 went by,I can’t help but be amazed how time flies so fast that I didn’t even realize the brisk ticking of time as the new year approaches.

I don’t know how your year unfolded- but mine was chock full of blessings, challenges, unexpected trips, opportunities, struggles, decision makings, dilemma, compromises, lost of a loved one and yet a birth of a new life. The first half of this year sailed on steadily without hassles. However, I had no inkling that the second half of the year would have spun around to its opposite direction.

An unanticipated and unwelcomed visitor in my life- a familiar name, called anemia happened sometime in June that inextricably scared the living daylights out of me. My first time with blood transfusion made me wonder for a second what was wrong with my body which I thought was well pampered with vitamins, exercise and good food.

But since I am a feisty fighter, I mustered the strength to literally stand on my feet the next day and begged those red blood cells to reproduce some more. And so they did. Though, I still looked pallid like half-beaten by a vampire towards the end of June but I considered myself lucky enough to have looked that way than appearing like a character in The Twilight Saga.

Gradually my determination to get well paid off. And a holiday trip with my husband to the Philippines spruced up my summer 2010. After the amazing time with my family, we went back to Croatia and went through the old grind-work, home and weekend activities.

Just a month after, a startling phone call turned my life upside down. Mom was in a critical condition due to a massive brain stroke. I was overwrought. Distressed. My body juddered incessantly. At that very moment, I was wishing that it was just a bad dream.

But it wasn’t.

I flew out of Croatia immediately and upon arriving to Manila, I dashed to the hospital directly from the airport. It wasn’t a pleasant sight to see your mother plugged to machines, shaved head and recuperating from craniotomy.

My faith barometer worked overtime. I prayed for healing miracles to God every single day in a span of a month while mom was in St.Luke’s Hospital Global City. Blessedly, she was checked out on a significant date, November 1, 2010, her birthday. What could be a better birthday gift than that, isn’t it?

God is indeed so good.

My mom went through stages that beckoned signs of recovery. It was overwhelming to see her milestones of improvements.
I had peace in my heart knowing that she was being taken care of by my overzealous sisters Reina, Mai and Chip, who are naturally gifted with nurturing spirits. Brenda my other sister’s impeccable financial management prowess and my brothers’ knack for logistics details made me a firm believer of the saying “There’s always good in bad.”

Clearly, this predicament made us gleamed in a dark situation such as this not only as an individual but as team players- we did our best we could to see our mom back the way she was before.

Surprisingly, three weeks later, God showed us a different route to my mom’s happiness. He took her with Him to heaven where she laid resting comfortably in His bosom. God shared to us a wonderful and a loving mother, our first teacher who touched the lives not only of my family members but a whole lot of people whom she had helped before.

Leaving behind my Christmas past in 2010 is not all about completely forgetting it. But clinging on dearly to the sweet and bitter memories of the past year inspire me as I make first bold steps towards my emotional healing in my Christmas present. What my Christmas future holds? Honestly, I don’t know.
I’m as clueless as you are with yours.

But I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. And from where I’m standing, I can already spot a blinding glint radiantly illuminating from afar.

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous 2011, Everyone!

Special Note:

On behalf of my family, I am thanking the members of Neurology Department of St.Luke’s Hospital, Global City, Manila, Philippines headed by Dr. Roy Torcuator, Dr. Vince De Guzman and other members of his team who put a new meaning to excellent medical service.

To all members of the professional nursing team at Critical Care Unit and 7th floor particularly Nurses Kim and Randy, you guys are modern day angels. Your care went over and beyond the call of nursing duty. Thank you for making my mom’s life joyful and comfortable while she was there. The surprised early morning birthday greetings, flowers and balloons from all of you surely made her last birthday a day to remember.

Thank you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis the Season To Be Jolly

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa la la la la la la la” Do you like that one too? When I was a young girl, whenever I heard that Christmas carol, I had always been curious how boughs of holly looked like. All I knew before was that we used to scrunch pieces of paper into small marble sizes and wrapped them with red crepe papers that we wired to green spiked edged elliptic shaped paper leaves-and voila, we had an instant holly plant for Christmas d├ęcor in a tropical country.

That wasn’t hard. You can try that yourself especially for children’s art activities.

But ever since I moved to a place where temperatures go below zero, it’s a great relief that during Christmas, I save my fingers from crumpling pieces of newspapers and few bucks for red crepe papers since holly plants here are real.

And they look absolutely gorgeous!

As I got enthralled not only with the Christmassy tune of the song, but with the endearing Holly plant as well, I went few steps further than just admiring a pot of Holly shrub that I bought from a plant nursery- I researched more about them.

And here’s what I found out.

According to a site called, the Holly plant’s evergreen nature made it so special during Christmas. The Druids of the Celtic Society used Holly for head dresses while brandishing the beauty of red berries on their heads since they represented the sacred blood of their goddess.

During the Roman period, they used Holly to decorate their houses as it symbolized kindness and friendship. In fact, the pagans during this period left Holly plant outside their homes because of their belief that fairies sought Holly Shrubs as shelter during the cold temperature of winter. (Now, since I’ve got a pot in my balcony, I’m expecting a slew of Tinkerbells to fly around at night.)

For Christians, holly became a symbol of Christmas with its sharp edged leaves that bespeak of Christ’s thorns and red berries for His precious blood. In essence, holly represents peace, joy, friendship and good cheer.
Now that we know that there’s more to holly’s beauty than meets the eye, next time, you’re buying Christmas plants, don’t just pick poinsettias- grab a pot of holly too.

Holly plant is more than just a bunch of sparkling dark red berries sprucing up our balconies or end corner of the living room. With its real meaning, it awakens us to open our hearts and homes to the needy during this time of the year.

Let me assure you that not only that holly’s sparkling glory can make you smile in a cold winter morning, but these little bright red balls with evergreen leaves can also make you sing fa la la la la la la.