Warm chocolate for the soul

THANKSGIVING means family. (from left) Steve, Farida, Alex, Patrick and Stephanie have lunch at Cracker Barrel.

THANKSGIVING means family. (from left) Steve, Farida, Alex, Patrick and Stephanie have lunch at Cracker Barrel.

WHEN temperatures start to dip below zero, spending Saturday night home alone doesn’t sound so bad. I begged off from joining my sister and her family who drove to a Filipino friend’s house some time ago to practice singing Christmas carols and watch Manny Pacquiao’s fight.

Apart from saving me from making small talk with people I don’t really know, my decision to stay home gave me the option not to dignify Pacquiao who—win or lose—is again out to use his expertise in the ring to further his ambitions on areas he has no right to be in. Yes, not even in his wildest dreams.

I'M not kidding. It's bitter cold down here.

I’M not kidding. It’s bitter cold down here.

Home, of course, is my sister’s three-story suburban house outside Washington D.C. where I’m spending a pre-Christmas vacation before flying back to my real home in Mega Manila in time for the holiday rush a week or so from now.

Too cold for comfort

As I write this, the temperature outside has climbed to a somewhat bearable 6˚C. Bearable, of course, is a relative word. To a child of the tropics, that’s still way too cold for comfort.

Just this morning, I had to bundle up in -9˚C weather to watch my nephew Patrick play in a series of soccer matches with boys his age. My sister’s youngest child, who’s now 10, happens to be the team’s goalie.

I guess you all know by now that I’m not really a big sports fan. But if there’s a sports I’d stay up late or wake up early for to watch, it’s football. My fascination for the game was ignited by our very own Azkal’s series of heroic and convincing wins.

By the time the last World Cup in Brazil was aired, I was hooked. And since my nephew, whom I haven’t seen for more than four years, was playing, I gladly willed myself from bed, braved the cold and like dozens of adults, including Patrick’s parents, cheered him and his team on.

It took them a while to warm up. They lost their first game by one goal. But by the time they reentered the field some two hours later for Game 2, the boys were all fired up as they faced a new set of equally good and hungry opponents.

Germany vs. Brazil moment

The game had to go on overtime, as both teams were tied at 3-3. But during the dying stretch of the 30-minute extension, I was beginning to see a Germany vs. Brazil moment, as my favorite team scored one goal after another.

Patrick and his friends went on to win the game with a convincing 6-3 victory. I’m not speaking as a proud uncle here, but the boy did show plenty of quick and beautiful saves.

A SELFIE during a lull in the games

A SELFIE during a lull in the games

If he keeps it up, he might yet join the ranks of a new breed of Azkals in the near future. You don’t have to hire Madame Auring to know who his manager would be.  🙂

I would have relished to see my niece, Patrick’s older sister, Stephanie, 13, compete in swimming. But a sports-related injury—hopefully a minor one—has sidelined her for the rest of the year.

PATRICK'S bright idea

PATRICK’S bright idea

Before such an unwelcome development happened, Stephanie was in fighting form, topping her heats and winning her share of medals.

I’m not at all surprised that Stephanie has, like a duck to water, excelled in swimming. Even before she could talk, that child has always been fond of the water while growing up in Florida.

Boy, where have all the years gone? Little Stephanie is now taller by an inch or two than her mother. And at 5’6”, my sister isn’t exactly petite herself. I only wish my parents were here to also savor these moments.

Holiday of holidays

As we await the holiday of holidays in America—they say Thanksgiving Day is even bigger than Christmas since it’s celebrated by almost every American regardless of faith—and with my brother and his family joining us tomorrow from Texas, my databank of good memories is again bound to be overloaded. But I’m not complaining.

You can have your warm mug of chocolate. Thank you! Events like these are more than enough to warm my heart and keep me going in spite of the bitter cold.

WHERE have all the years gone? My nephew and niece Patrick and Stephanie

WHERE have all the years gone? My nephew and niece Patrick and Stephanie



2 thoughts on “Warm chocolate for the soul

  1. Good food and family are the best ingredients for the happiest memories. 🙂 It’s great that you can at least visit your siblings once a year especially now that your oldest niece and nephew are entering adolescence and the baby of the family is growing up too. Technology is a big help these days and makes for great conversation starters with the young ‘uns. 🙂

    • Indeed, May, where would we be now without technology? But technology has its drawbacks, too. For one, it sometimes robs reunions and meetings of the mystery and spontaneity that we once look so forward to. It also gives us heightened expectations that may or may not live up to what we experience personally. But as a whole, I’d say technology is a blessing. Used wisely and within reason, technology bridges the gaps created by time and distance.

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