By Jay Bolusa

December 26, 2007 — Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa lahat! This is my first time to spend Christmas at Schenectady, New York. This is truly a white Christmas.

I took the bus to Schenectady on Christmas night and the view on the way up was truly spectacular. It was like the ones you only see in postcards sent from abroad. It was not cold here in Manhattan when I left but the moment the bus got out of the city the scenery changed. The hills and wintered trees are covered in snow; they’re so immaculate, so white and so perfect.

It was different traveling by bus rather than by car because the bus is higher so there is a better perspective of the view all around. The lakes are frozen and it seems that everything around is iced up in time. True, there are no birds around but you are marveled by the beauty of nature how everything has changed, the verdant mountains to golden leaves then white in just a matter of months, you feel the presence of God; a reminder that indeed there is an Ultimate Being.

As I gazed further, I saw the reflection of the setting sun on the snowy hill… quite different from what I used to see in Brooke’s Point ages ago. I reflected on life…life goes on and on no matter where you are and one has to learn to adjust to wherever one must be and find what is beautiful, for life is beautiful.

I arrived in Schenectady at 4:00 pm as scheduled. It was just sunset, I could very well see the silhouette of Albany, an old world city with all its warmth. The Governor’s Mansion is well lit with a big Christmas tree on the side and the plaza blazing with everything Christmas. Santa Klaus with his reindeers, Christmas wreaths and stars, a total contrasts from Manhattan where one can’t even inch his way on Christmas evening to 5th Avenue. Here, the feeling is you’re going home to the warmth of your family. That’s how I felt. It was a different sight from all those Christmases in the City for the past two decades.

Jinkee was very busy cooking when Nelo and I arrived. Her friends, with their children, arrived by eight o’clock. By then we have set the table with the traditional ham and queso de bola, pansit, cassava cake, leche flan and halaya. Reyan brought pansit molo while Jun brought dinuguan and chicken macaroni salad. Yin, Jinkee’s classmate at residency came with Mark with a bouquet of flowers. Presto we had dinner by candlelight then watched Pope Benedict’s Mass from Rome and opened the Christmas presents. That was Christmas Eve in Schenectady. Of course, I talked with JJ, Susan, Ralph, Eli and Jolo before we retired for the night.

At 9:30 a.m., Diego woke up and exclaimed “it’s Christmas morning!” ran to the living room and ran back to the bedroom whispering to Jinkee “Santa gave me everything…” and was jumping with joy. I just looked at him and remembered how Jinkee had enjoyed those christmases when she was young eagerly waiting for the Christmas morn to look for Santa’s gift. She was in high school when she learned the truth about Santa. Oh, those joyful years of childhood when we all believe in Santa Klaus. Don’t we all wish that sometimes we are young again to savor this innocence of youth!

On Christmas day, we traveled back to the city. Before I left for Albany, I already set the table for Christmas brunch; this time we had different kinds of cheese: blue cheese, wine cheese and soft cheeses. I was glad that Jinkee loved the blue cheese but Jeff and Nelo settled for queso de bola, ham and pansit while Diego opted for spaghetti with meat balls. We opened Christmas presents; then the Sabugos left for Nelo’s mom and sisters for their own dinner, while Jeff and I watched the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a New York traditional Christmas presentation. This is Christmas Day in New York 2007.

Ciao and God bless!

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