My holiday story

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful Holiday weekend with your family and friends. We had a great weekend filled with fun, family, friends and festivities.

My Saturday is a bit hectic, I still can’t find one gift for my friend’s daughter, she wanted a blue Angry bird and I went to three different store and they were all out! Gosh, I actually turn to be a pretty angry myself! 🙂 Then I also spend all day preparing for the feast on Sunday, I hosted a Christmas dinner this year (as was I last year as well – but this time it’s at friend’s house) so I spend most of my Saturday evening preparing for it – more story latter on. And a not so good thing, one of my dearest friend’s sister – who also a friend of ours – need to have a emergency tumor removal surgery so we also spend quite a bit of time visiting her at the hospital. But all is good. Nothing says Christmas/Holiday like a busy hectic day! 🙂

Sunday morning Tyra and Kalia literally running down the stairs wanting to open their presents. I love hearing the ooh… and ahh…. Each time Tyra open her presents, not to mention “thank you mommy, thank you daddy, thank you Santa, thank you elf and thank you God.” Hahaha… 🙂  They got a great combinations of toys, clothes and educational items for gift, so I’m pretty happy. Of course, the night before I made sure they choose their old toys to give away to goodwill. My friends notice that Tyra took little after me that she loves to cook and bake so she got her first easy bakes oven and a Hello Kitty cupcake maker! She’s way too excited to see them. Now Kalia, she doesn’t understand gift as much as Tyra, but she got excited over this one gift that my husband choose, it’s her first mini cycles. It’s pink and so cute. Apparently it need to be assembly so husband have to assembly it and she just sat there waiting patiently (most of the time) for daddy to finish putting her little bike together. Then she have a blast going all over the house with it and literally couldn’t care less on the rest of her gift.

The girls have been very blessed with their Aunties and Uncles (either from friends or relatives) with great gift their received. And I can’t thank them enough for loving my children.

As for the holiday feast, we have a progressive holiday feast on Sunday, we all agreed to have an all day eating fiesta, so instead of gathering on one place for dinner and everybody bring a dishes, we split into two places and have two family host each gathering. So we started our Sunday at 11 am with brunch at one friend’s house hosted by the homeowner and one other friends. It was so delish!! We have tons of pastry stuff (one of my friend is Hmong French so she cooks lots of French food) we have Mussels, Salmon, sandwiches and chicken, fruit tarts, etc..  I was so full and they even joked to moved dinner to 8 pm because they were all so full.

Dinner is my turn, I actually host it with one other friend and we do it at her house, however my friend is on an early stage of pregnancy and she really have a rough one. So she can’t cooked anything literally! So I cooked all the heavy stuff and all she need to do is preparing the eatery stuff, the utensil, drinks and salads. I made Roast Turkey, Roast Beef, bakes pasta and sautéed shrimp and mixed veggies, I also bakes a Christmas cake for dessert. I literally do all by myself cooked to feed about 20 – 30 people. I was so worried that we don’t have enough or it didn’t come up right etc… at the end it all went very well and they told me that I actually graduated to be a Nyab Hmong – I think it meant a good Hmong daughter in law. My husband and I was laughing so hard when they all say that. Laughing aside, I take it as a great compliment!

We really had a marvelous time together on Sunday. I love being among them, there’s nothing pretentious on our relationship,  it is mostly laughter that we shared I’m not going to lie, of course we also have our share of argument and tears but at the end we all become such a great friends that we put all aside. I think we truly become a family.

I hope you guys have just a lovely time as I was over the past weekend. Here’s to a great and successful 2012!!

Ps, sorry I haven’t got any time to load pictures yet, but I will and will share them soon.

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When a Muslim girl & family hosted a Christmas Party

This year Holiday party is held at my house and we’re so excited to have the honor! So I roughly have one week to transform my house into the holiday theme. I think I did well.

This is my poor attempt of having a Christmas Tree at my house – I used to have the big one and I figure because we never really put it up, we gave it away with all the ornament to one of my friend.

Picture of some food and decorations

And for more pictures, please go to my family share picture site.

For the main entrée we’re having Pho! After all we’re Asian.. 🙂 (one of my favorite bloggers Lori Dyan having Chinese or Sushi as her traditions!) I made a huge pot outside that can feed the whole army – literally.  Other family bring side dishes and other food.

We played games and at midnight we carol. The games we played was just so simple but so much fun that get everybody laughing so hard most of the times. The caroling was beautiful, everybody was singing their own melody, off key was heard and mumbles…  we all do it together as family which is very nice.

Check out the video my husband took.

And guess what… the party lasted all night through the morning! Each time we get together we always played cards. So after midnight we start our poker tradition.. although I never play (don’t know how and not really interested to try) I was there in the table – watching my husband lose miserably! – and we all just talking and talking and before we know it, it’s 6 am in the morning!

We finally took little nap at 6 am ish… and the kids woke us up around 11 ish…  kinda skipped breakfast and have lunch together – I made my semi-homemade cinnamon rolls though… J – being Asian and all.. we have rice and pho again for our ‘brunch’ hehehehe…

It was very having family with us on Christmas day. The kids helps Tyra & Kalia opening their presents and we really have fun…..  it’s such a privilege for us hosting the party this year at our house, even though personally me and my husband don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, but there are others things to celebrate….. Love, Family and friendship…

This is part of me being corny and all… but I quote from John Lennon songs,

“Imagine there’s no heaven…It’s easy if you try….No hell below us…Above us only sky…Imagine all the people….Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries….It isn’t hard to do….Nothing to kill or die for….And no religion too…Imagine all the people….Living life in peace…”

And yes, just like him… I am a dreamer too.

Peace on Earth… with love, from my family to yours.

The Dutch in me has “Sprechen….”

Why I’m afraid of Santa….

During Christmas time Tyra always got so excited about Santa. Just like any regular kids are. My mom made comment on how I was so different then, Both me and my sister were always afraid of Santa. I started remembering my childhood and if there’s a reason for me to be afraid of Santa.

Yes! It is Zwarte Piet or Black Pete! You probably are not familiar with Black Pete or Zwarte Piet in Dutch – being a Dutch descent our family adopt Christmas tradition just how grandmother know it, with Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete/Peter).

Dutch Christmas holiday story and  including my parents warn that while Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten will leave well-behaved children presents, they will punish those who have been naughty. For example they will take bad children and carry these children off in a burlap sack to be punish.

So why I was so scared of Santa even if I’ve been good? Well first of all Dutch Santa Claus is not the same with fatherly friendly figure that American people are used to, Sinterklaas is very serious, very stern and dress very proper with long religious robe (kind like that Pope is wearing) – he still bring gift and candy, but there’s no ho ho ho… famous line. We didn’t sit on his lap, we’re standing while he’s looking at us with serious eyes that can make you shiver inside and out and ask if you been a good girl or not.

Heres’ the sick part…. Your parents will already told him what kind of trouble you made throughout the year, so when you said “Yes, I’ve been a good girl, and Sinterklaas will say “Don’t you lie to me. I know you lock your sister in the bathroom!”

Did I mention Zwarte Piet?

I belive the story behind him is he’s the devil that Santa recruit to be his helper and no, he’s not cute like elf! He’s the devil. So he normally will stand stern behind Santa and his body and face will be painted black! Tell me what kid will not be scared of that image?! He’s known to be punishing the bad kids and give them coal. But even if you are a good girl, he still scares the “haha” out of you!

Don’t believe the story, read this. 🙂  or this.. 🙂

Needles say.. Christmas is always a fun tradition growing up too. Even though our family is Muslim but we also have relative who is Catholic and  Christiian and we always experience both religious holiday. Presents, money, new clothes, new toys, food what’s not to like? Even the Sinterklaas part is (kinda) fun. It is part of it so going through Christmas without Sinterklaas is just doesn’t feel right.

Well, last night I try to share with my husband my Christmas childhood story, and did more research to show it to him. I discover that a lot of people actually feel offended by Black Pete. They associate it with Dutch racism and colonial history. I personally don’t know what to comment on it. Back home we never thought of having black pete as part of the holiday as being racist. Somehow religion always have this idea of good is white and evil is black. He’s always part of Dutch Holiday tradition since the 15th century, I believe.

Unfortunately Dutch does have negative stereotype of their colonial past. Nobody can change that. People who knows and read history won’t even try to deny that and this is one example, many view black Pete as a racist caricature from the country’s colonial past.

Happy Holiday!!! or to keep up with the Dutch spirit,  Prettige Kerstfeest!!

Taken from Wikipedia

First time meeting Santa

Last weekend we took the family to see Santa. It is our family tradition to attend my company’s holiday party. They always coordinate the party to be at the same time during Denver Parade of Light. Our location its right at Downtown and will be pass by the parade. So we all can watch the parade from the convenience of the office building instead of being out in the cold.

However, even though the adult find it convenience and cozy, children have their own opinion. My daughter always beg us to go outside and see the parade from the street. Even though we’re sitting in a very comfortable warm office with plenty of food and hot cocoa or egg nog “It is not the same!” that’s what she said. We try to reason with her, telling her it’s cold outside, crowded etc… “Of course it’s crowded, all the people want to see the parade outside not inside like us! And isn’t that why you bought be this thick jacket and gloves so I can stay warm outside?” Who knew they can outsmart you that early? Daddy gave up and took her outside for little bit.

This is also the first time Kalia – our 7 month old meeting Santa! I wasn’t sure how she’ll react. Judging from the picture, she wasn’t sure either. You can tell by the look on her face that she just “lost”. When she was sitting on the Mrs Claus’s lap, she pretty happy and just attacking the goose. I mean really.. she grabbed the goose by the neck and shake it and bite it – it’s a fake goose of course – I keep on trying to keep her away from the goose because judge by the goose color, it hasn’t taken a bath since 3 Christmas ago and Kalia still tend to put things in her mouth.

At the end… it was a very nice party. The Bank put a lot of effort on putting this beautiful party together every year. Each year we always find something new. New menu, new candy buffet, new arrangement etc…. and I’m happy because I don’t have to drag my kids to meet Mall Santa, wait in line and pay ridiculous amount of money to have your child picture taken with Santa!

Enjoy the picture and happy holiday to you all!

2010 Picture of Tyra & Kalia with Santa

The goose got no change!

Tyra & Santa

 

Kalia is not sure how she feel about Santa

Tyra having fun in the kid section

Watching the Parade of light

One of the appertizer table

Bye Santa.. see you next year!

You are a very bad man who didn’t deserve Santa!

I went to a grocery store right by my work to pick up some quick lunch. As we all know, during this time most shopping places have one of this ARC people ringing their bells with their red bucket for donations. So is at this store. An older gentlemen with his thick jacket, wearing Santa’s hat just happily ringing his bells and wish shopper merry Christmas – to those who made eye contact anyway.

I was still standing outside looking at some Christmas tree not too far from that guy when out of the blue some guy went into the store and start swearing at the ARC guy. “get a f@#$&^ real job you loser!” that what he said. The ARC guys just smile and said “Merry Christmas Sir.” Somehow that just furriate the other guy more. He grabbed the other guy by the hand and almost started a physical fight. He said “Don’t you merry Christmas me you loser!”

During this whole thing, I was just stand there stunned! Many people were too. Then there’s this one boy – in my opinion he’s around 6 – 7 yrs old – started shouting back to the guy. “Leave him alone! He’s a Santa helper not a loser. You’re a loser!” then he continues while crying “You are a very bad man and you don’t deserve Christmas and Santa!”

Just right after that people stared to defend the ARC guy and that jerk left the store immediately. That poor little boy was so upset, he was crying and shacking up. People that was there to witness the whole thing try to calm him along with his mother, they call him a hero, so is the ARC guy. People also shook his hand.

I was standing there still stunned, I left the store shortly after. The whole time yesterday I keep on thinking about that poor ARC guy and the little boy. None of us – including me!! – stand up for the guys. It was only after the little boy say something then people started to react. What’s wrong with that?! Are we becoming so ignorant?

Target refuse to allow ARC to stand in front of their store because it’s inconvenience their customer. Really?  What have we turn ourselves into? Personally, I know few people that told me how they hated the ARC guy in front of any store. But why? I live here for 10 years and never in my experience those guy ever harm me or force me to donate. To me they’re part of Christmas! Christmas seems different without the bell greeting me each time I enter a store.

I’m trying to give everybody benefit of the doubt. The guys who’s acted like a jerk could’ve had a very bad day – who knows, but it’s still no excuse to treat others like that. Stop the hating!  Whatever issue you have with the world.. whatever anger you have, please don’t take it to just some random guy….

They boy said it all, they are not a loser, they are Santa’s helper trying to bring little more cheers for those who is less fortunate. Let us keep a positive attitude, not just during holiday season for everyday of our life!

Jolly Jolly Jolly….

I normally pretty uncomfortable talking about charity/donating, maybe because part of my belief. It said that “when you give with your right hands, hide your left hand.” Basically saying that we should never brag about giving. I wanted to share my experience this year though, because to me, this time it give me somewhat different feeling.

As a tradition, we adopt a family for Christmas.  I don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, but I share the giving spirit of the season and looking forward for it each year. Normally we get a list of the family – how many are they, their wish list etc… and I normally get family with small children. This year when I receive the family information I got scared. The family that was assigned to me is a set of grandparents with 3 teenagers. I have never shop for teenagers before! Even though I claim to be 21 yrs old, but let’s face it – who am I kidding here.

On top of that, this family hardly wrote anything on their wish list. I have to guess! I contacted the coordinator and ask if she can help me gather more information about this family. This is the part that bring me teary eyes….

It’s the grandparents raising three of their granddaughters. The parents pass away tragically long time ago. This is the first time they sign up for any help therefore they feel awkward and embarrassed to write down any wish list, they think any helps is big enough helps. The coordinator finally able to get some wish list for me and what breaks my hearts more when I hear all the grandpa wants is some type of new clothes for him and his family. That’s all he wants. He haven’t buy/wear new clothes in years. The youngest child is 10 yrs old. She only wanted new baby doll clothes for her baby doll. The grandma only want some grocery store gift card to provide holiday meal and the other two teenagers only want Taylor Swift  or Carrie Underwood CD.

Their story and their humble wish list really touches me more.  Especially when I hear how they were all very grateful and how the grandpa was crying when he ask for new clothes. For real hard working people, it takes a lot out of you to ask for help. I can sense that from this family. They have been raising their grandchildren and manage to do so all this time by themselves. This is the first time they asked for help. The hard economic situation hits them just like it hits everybody.

It encourage me to do more. I share their story with my boss and colleagues and donations and help start pouring in. With all that helps, I manage fulfill their humble wish list and more and also help other family too – all within budget!

As we all know, these are trying times. The economy is still struggling and there are many families that need our help. I’m happy that I can help a little and help spread the words to others to reach to the community so we can provide more gifts and meals to families that cannot afford to fully enjoy the holidays.

I’d like to share few words from one of the family that was help by this program.

I am the aunt of a family you helped this season and I was so touched I wanted to thank you as well. My sister is a wonderful mom. Everything she does is for her kids. I know it is hard for her raising all three children by herself, but she does it any way, every day all year. I also know the state of the economy has everyone cutting corners and that makes your gifts so meaningful, thank you. Really, you have made Christmas for this family.”

Let’s reach more this seasons… if you live in Denver area and wish to support this program, please contact Interfaith Community Service or of course you can choose any charity organization you wish.

Happy Holiday!