Every man ought to be a macho macho man,
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
Have their own life style and ideals,
Possess the strength and confidence, life’s a steal,
You can best believe that he’s a macho man
He’s a special person in anybody’s land.
(Village People – Macho Man)
gift of laughter
Dad dancing Village People “Macho Man” at a Christmas Party in the late seventies
It’s the booming laughter I remember the most. It’s a laughter that runs across the room that never failed to cheer me up. My father may have passed away 17 years ago today but his sense of humor, the laughter and the positive attitude remains alive in me.

My earliest memory of dad was his round belly that looked like a pillow stuffed under his polo-shirt. I was convinced that fathers also got pregnant just like mom. As I grew, a little older and a little wiser, I realized his paunch stayed the same way, and no baby would ever come out of it. That often puzzled me. I often laid my head on his soft paunch, but only just for a minute because dad would find it uncomfortable.

My sister , Myrna believes that dad’s legacy is his example of strength and perseverance to us, the seven children and eighteen grandchildren. I learned by watching him suffer from the ravages of Stroke, that I should never give up on life, and to hold on to every precious moment with my loved ones, fully aware that, like a candle’s flame, life can flicker out in an instant. His laughter just resonated . Enthusiastic, effervescent, so full of life!

Above all these, the best thing dad gave us is his legacy of true love and family devotion. Even though he is gone, that love and strength of character live on as we now pass these to my daughters, to our granddaughter’s’ children, and so forth down the generation line.

Listen to my podcast of this post

Today, I want to remember my Daddy old boy, round and pudgy, full of life, his voice confidently booming across a room, his loud laughter rising above a crowd. He may not have the body of a muscled macho man, but he lived the style, the ideals, the strength and confidence of a true-blue macho man.

gift of laughter

My dad has always been my role model. I may have been a late bloomer in citizen empowerment and community work, but Dad was always at the back of my mind all these years. I hope he is proud of his children, who in one way or another are following his lead. My Dad, Jose P Lardizabal, was our role model for community service and leadership. Dad was an accountant and a corporate man but he was very active in PICPA, Jaycees, Rotary (a Past District Governor), Caritas (Board President), Sacred Hospital and Southwestern Univ, St Martin de Porres (for special children), Enercon (chairman), Sinulog (Chairman), UP Cebu MBA, and many more.

Dad is a special person in anybody’s land. He is alive and well in my treasured box of memories. May Dad still be smiling down upon us from Heaven, happy about how our lives have turned out.

I miss you, dad.my father

Time And health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted. – Denis Waitley

Riding a train on our way to Abbottsford five years ago, I pondered over my vacation to Melbourne. All I could think of at first was how expensive this vacation is. Everything cost more than back home and that is partly because I am staying in a hotel in the central business district. Once I started converting Australian dollars to pesos, I feel like I am splurging when that is not really the case. The standard of living is just high here. But see, life is short fretting on material things that it is actually the time spent with my daughter that is most precious. There is a tendency for human beings to have this infinite capacity for taking things for granted. I don’t want to make that mistake.

I loved spending time with my daughter. She is like me in so many ways. We enjoy the arts, having lazy brunches and just chilling and enjoying the scenery. My daughter wanted to show me graffiti art in Hosier Lane where graffiti is not considered vandalism. Graffiti has long been a part of human history, but it wasn’t until the emergence of hip hop culture that graf began gaining recognition as an art form around the globe.

I like how supportive the City of Melbourne is towards their artists. The artwork decorating the walls near number 1 Hosier Lane and near Misty Place at number 3-5 Hosier Lane have been approved as registered street artwork. There is symbolisms out there for every artwork.

I get into the mind of Banksy , a prolific graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared throughout Bristol, London and other locations around the world to understand graffiti art.

Is graffiti art or vandalism? That word has a lot of negative connotations and it alienates people, so no, I don’t like to use the word ‘art’ at all.

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish. But that’s only if it’s done properly.”

” I never use sketchbooks in the way you imagine a “real” artist does – perched in a terrace cafe with a pencil capturing the essence of their muse. I tried that once when I was on holiday with a girl, but her nose came out so big in the drawing that she never let me touch her again.”

“Bus stops are far more interesting and useful places to have art than in museums. Graffiti has more chance of meaning something or changing stuff than anything indoors. Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars, and generally is the voice of people who aren’t listened to. Graffiti is one of those few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make somebody smile while they’re having a piss.”

“A lot of people never use their initiative because nobody told them to”.

“Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas every day, we read novels by the millions, and buy records by the billions. ‘We the people’ affect the making and quality of most of our culture, but not our art.”

“I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in – like peace and justice and freedom.”

“Writing graffiti is about the most honest way you can be an artist. It takes no money to do it, you don’t need an education to understand it and there’s no admission fee.”

“A lot of people think that scuttling around stencilling images onto buildings in the middle of the night is the action of a sad, frustrated individual who can’t get attention or recognition any other way. They might be right, but I’ve done gallery shows and, if you’ve been hitting on people with all sorts of images in all sorts of places, they’re a real step backwards, painting the streets means becoming an actual part of the city. It’s not a spectator sport.”

“Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.”

“T.V. has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.”

I can discern the political nature behind the art. These artists definitely think outside the box. I know I have limitations in my visual literacy but I allowed an open mind to appreciate their work. I believe that to truly appreciate a work of art, we must bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its affairs and ideas, no familiarity with its emotions.

Most of the photos attributed to my daughter M, using a Nikon D7000. Some are from my iPhone

Photo via Flickr by Abigail Batchelder. Some rights reserved.

Photo via Flickr by Abigail Batchelder. Some rights reserved.

Candies are a no-no in the house except on Valentine’s day, Easter Holidays and Christmas Season. I only display them on the table because they are pretty and colorful. I know I shouldn’t tempt the kids with these goodies but that’s not a problem because they are conscious of the amount of food they eat. They also know that they are at high risk of diabetes. The hubby is quite lucky as he doesn’t have this genetic problem and can tolerate high carbo diets. The strange thing is he can’t take in high amounts of protein due to gouty arthritis.

so anyway….

I remember the last time I organized an Easter Egg hunt was 20 years ago. Since our house didn’t have a big garden that time, I thought of placing the eggs inside the house. I added a twist. To find the eggs, they were given clues which led to another clue and so on and so forth. I can’t remember the clues now but I wrote it in riddles. I dubbed it an Easter Egg detective hunt. Two of the eggs were strategically placed inside their dad’s shirt while he was napping. I caught the hunt in video. The look on one of my daughter’s face as she found the eggs was priceless. Laughing and laughing! I know, I know… I can get “crazy”.

To bring IQube in the hands of as many children as possible, Tactiles has luanched in Indiegogo campaign where interested parents, individuals and education institutions can purchase the kits at early-bird rates.  Click here.


Do you have a “mad scientist” in your household? I remember Oscar, my brother who was probably 10 years old that time. He dismantled the transistor radio and intercom system at home to see how each part worked. Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful in putting it back together. Mom had a fit. Well, she may not have known the impact of a child’s curiosity at that time. In  1980, Oscar dabbled with his TRS-80 computer and learned programming on his own, which resulted in a teaching job two years later. See , there were no schools that taught basic computer skills. One had to actually tinker with technology, learn from it then develop a teaching module.

iqube learning

Parents need not worry now with dismantled gadgets from curious kids. There are new toys that bring science and technology to life. Recently, I attended the launch of IQube, small magnetic cubes that provide a fun and simple way for children to learn advanced concepts in electronics. Tactiles is, the company that manufactures IQube, is one of the startups under the IdeaSpace Foundation.  Joshua de la Luna, the CEO of Tactiles revealed that they are launching a crowdfunding drive for its first product in order to make teaching electronics to young kids easier, more fun and more interactive.

iqube learning 1

Divided into little electronic component squares, kids as young as eight years old can interconnect and rearrange blocks to form simple and complex circuitries, the same way they would create various objects using Lego blocks. IQube  is amazing. I played with a few cubes.

iqube app

The aim of IQube gives kids the grounding and foundation for electronics at a very young age so that they can be ready to tackle these concepts at as they move up in school and be prepared to enter a world where electronics and  technology play an increasingly important role.

IQube part

Crowdfunding campaign

This is where you can help. IQube is not yet available in commercial quantities.  To bring IQube in the hands of as many children as possible, Tactiles  launched an Indiegogo campaign where interested parents, individuals and education institutions can purchase the kits at early-bird rates.

iqube benefits1

Users can get the primary kit which includes 8 cubes an over 30 projects for $79; the junior kit with 14 cubes and over 50 projects for $99′ and the Senior kit with 20 cubes and over 100 projects for $129.

iqube indiegogo

The IQube is composed of input cubes, output cubes, connector cubes and component cubes that perform different functions in every electronic circuit, allowing children to grasp complex concepts by breaking them down.

iqube app1

Unlike similar toys, the IQube has a companion IQube app that will be made available to most desktop and mobile devices. Kids can get instructions on how to create circuits for various purposes and learn how a fan works, how a switch controls lights or how a game show buzzer  sound among countless other projects.

iqube toy1

“Once they learn the fundamentals, they are only limited by what their imagination can conceive,” de la Llana says. The Tactiles team are passionate about bringing  the fun and interactive technology to as much children here and around the world to help elevate the level of science and electronics education in many countries, including the Philippines.

iqube connecting

Let’s start them young and develop their critical thinking and skills needed for the changing global landscape focused on electronics and technology. We want our kids to be prepared to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Support IQube by participating in the Indiegogo campaign .

iqube relevant

To Know ore about IQube and Tactiles, visit tactiles.io.

iqube benefits


tactile iqube

What gift do I buy for my husband? It was Butch’s birthday last Saturday and I was wracking my brains on gift ideas. He likes practical gifts for the house but I have all the small appliances and gadgets. Then, I spotted Kankan Ramos Facebook post on her second coloring book. A lightbulb moment. Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, whether it’s for stress relief or simply just to satisfy our inner child.   Good thing there is an  order page to purchase these coloring books. They are so beautiful and all are hand-drawn by Kankan . I am not saying this just because she is a friend. They are so pretty.

19 pages that you can color, tear the pages off and frame them as you please.

19 pages that you can color, tear the pages off and frame them as you please.

Majestic, flights of imagination: A hand-drawn coloring book for all ages 20 works of art inspired by the wondrous riches that live beneath our waves

Majestic, flights of imagination: A hand-drawn coloring book for all ages
20 works of art inspired by the wondrous riches that live beneath our waves

I wasn’t sure Butch would love the coloring books but I took a chance . If he did not like it, I could easily use it myself.  Surprise! He loved it. In fact, he knew what coloring books were about because he read about it from the New York Times.  I was not able to buy coloring pencils because I was out of town a few days before his birthday. He was so excited to use the coloring book that he bought all the coloring materials : oil pastel, Faber castel highlight pens, water color and crayons.

kankan ramos coloring books


My husband wasted no time  and started a page that will show bursts of colors.  He must have enjoyed watching colors bursting with life from his work and felt so rewarded from the activity . He kept showing it off to me and saying how relaxing it is .  This seemingly ordinary activity  promotes mindfulness and relief from stress.


coloring book from kankan ramos

So why is it such a relaxing activity? “You’re giving your brain some space and something to focus on that’s meditative, that’s containing,” says art therapist Saba Harouni. Because grown-ups tend to rush through life from one deadline to the next, filling in the lines on a page with colors can help them focus, meditate, and slow down. “When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres. The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills,” psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala says. “The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress. It brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress.”

My husband loves the bright, vivid colors he chose for this page.

my husband's work in coloring book


You should try it when you need to de-stress. Psychologist Antoni Martínez agrees . “I recommend it as a relaxation technique. We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state. I myself have practiced that. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.”

I am so glad that I found a gift for my husband that will  make him stop worrying for a few minutes and to—just keep coloring.


Beginnings and Majestic coloring books are available at Fully Booked and online.  For the Beginnings coloring book, order here and  order the Majestic coloring book here.


Too bad I missed the grand opening of Kidzania Manila at Park Triangle in Bonifacio Global City. I waited for this day. Oh well, let me share  the good news so you know what to  expect when you visit Kidzania Manila.

Where kids do big things

KidZania Manila is the ultimate role-playing environment where kids get to live out their big dreams. With 8,000 square meters of play space, kids aged 4-14 will now get to role-play grown-up roles and live out their dream careers. Isn’t that so much fun?

kidzania manila launch

KidZania is found all over the globe from Mexico to Tokyo to London and KidZania Manila is the 20th KidZania city in the world, and the first of its kind in the Philippines.

immigration office of kidzania

“We can’t wait for Filipino children to finally enjoy the unique role-play experience that KidZania Manila offers. Kids will play and learn together, figure out what makes a good city, and collaborate to help run their own community. Play at KidZania will spark dreams and imagination – empowering them to believe that they can make a better world,” says Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas, State Governor for KidZania Philippines.

kidzania fire department

KidZania’s tagline is “Get Ready for a Better World” and KidZania believes that realistic and imaginative role-play can promote change, inspire global citizenship, and build strong community awareness.

kidzania processing

KidZania Manila is a play city built to scale for children – complete with paved streets, transport system, and a functioning economy. Every detail is intended to project authenticity: from the activity itself, to uniforms and costumes, to the work gear and tools – and even the city interiors.

kidzania airplane

From police officer to recording artist to urban farmer, kids can choose from over 100 immersive role-play activities. They can become firefighters to the rescue, pilots off to adventures, or even paramedics who save lives. And when kids work, they earn wages in KidZania’s currency called “KidZos.” The more they work, the more they earn. Kids can choose to save or spend what they earn – just like in real life. What a great way to teach them about grown up life?

vpower gasoline

More than just a family entertainment center, KidZania Manila creates a kid-centric experience where kids are in charge. KidZania partnered with over 40 real-world brands who help bring realism to the kid-sized city, providing children with reality-based activities and skills that they can use in real life.

kidzania market

They can open their own bank accounts, attend classes in the university, file their taxes, shop for necessities at the supermarket, and even drive electric cars.

abscbn theater at kidzania

KidZania Manila is open 7 days a week, with one shift Mondays through Thursdays, from 9AM to 4PM, and two shifts on weekends (Friday to Sunday) and national holidays, from 9AM to to 2PM for the first shift and 3 PM to 8PM for the second shift. KidZania Manila is on soft opening starting August 7, 2015, with limited slots available.

For more details on ticket prices and booking, visit the KidZania Manila website at manila.kidzania.com. Online ticketing goes live on August 3, 2015.




I never realized the value my children placed on their toys until my daughter interviewed me for her research paper a few years ago on “Toys and Games I played with” for her Psychology course.

lego toys

She said “Thank God mom for the girly and not so girly toys”.

In this day of digital toys and gadgets, I believe parents should never forget that the best toys for children are ‘open-ended’. Such toys encourage children to play using imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills such as blocks, balls, cardboard boxes, dress-ups and crafty bits and pieces

what will children ask for christmas

My three children loved LEGO blocks. They had lots and lots of LEGO blocks. They had the larger DUPLO blocks when they were toddlers. At that time. LEGO was sold in disassembled bricks, so they were free to create any figures their young minds could imagine. Even until the age of nine they spent all afternoon ignoring their Barbie dolls and instead built fortresses, houses, schools and whatnot. No wonder, I gave the Barbie Dolls away to my younger nieces. It was gathering dust.

During those days, LEGO blocks were sold at Gift Gate and were very expensive. I bought the LEGO blocks in Hongkong or the USA. Kids are blessed these days because the first official LEGO certified store just opened in the Philippines, today May 12, 2015.

When I periscoped the initial photos at the launch, many people were clamoring for the address. Well, it is located at the same building as Kidzania at the Park Triangle ( Along 11th avenue , 32nd street , Bonifacio Global City, Taguig ). Here is the map:

Everybody seems to be excited with this grand opening.

Did you know that seven LEGO sets are sold over the counter every second around the world? If today’s launch is any indication, I believe that is true.

lego sales

There was a long queue waiting outside after the media launch.

to the lego store

Both young kids and young-at-heart LEGO fans ( Adult Fans of Lego or AFOLs ) will love the variety and the exclusive collectors sets and product lines unique to the LEGO certified Store only. What are these unique lines?

Pick a Brick lego

First of all, there is the Pick A Brick (PAB) where you can buy the LEGO elements you need individually. This great for your very own unique LEGO creations. Pick A Brick is sold for a minimum purchase of 100 grams at 679.79 pesos per 100 grams.

Build a mini figure lego

Second unique line is the Build a Mini (BAM) which allows you to build your very own customized mini figure by choosing a headwear, head, torso, legs and tools/accessories. Each BAM set includes three customizable mini figures which cost 499.75 pesos.

monthly mini build lego store 1

Third, you can now enjoy the Monthly Mini Build (MMB) program, a hands-on monthly event where kids ages 6-14 are invited to build seasonal and exclusive LEGO Store mini builds. The best part is no purchase is needed. Children below 6 years old will also be allowed to join , as long as an adult or guardian will be present during the activity.

monthly mini build lego

I noticed LEGO now offers sets like the newly released Simpsons. Of course the old ones like Ninja Go and Star Wars, Minecraft are there. What caught my eye is LEGO friends which is more feminine than the usual LEGO sets.

elves treetop Lego

 Shelves are stocked with sets geared toward girls and boys based on ages and dexterity.

lots of lego

What I like the most about this new store is their mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. LEGO and LAJ Marketing Philippines in partnership with World Vision will collaborate together for the “Rebuild Classrooms Project. The project aims to help children in target Area Development Programs to have access to learning facilities through the renovation and construction of classrooms and other school facilities.

spider man glider lego

Today, LEGO started selling 5,000 pieces of the 30302 Spider-Man Glider V29 for only 50.00 pesos in support of rebuilding classrooms in Malabon. I got five pieces which is the maximum purchase per person.

lego brickstoclassrooms

In addition to the Spiderman set sale, LEGO will also donate 100 pesos on your behalf for every 20pcs My Own Creation (MOC) entry you send in via Instagram which represents “EDUCATION”in order to help raise a total of 500,000 pesos for this project. In my instagram account, I assembled a book to symbolize education.

Visit the LEGO certified store at the Park Triangle ( 11th avenue corner Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig )

Sparkling and dazzling lights dance around our Christmas tree. Hundreds of tiny lights run along the garlands like waves stretching all the way to the second floor. The girls’ bright red and green Christmas stockings hang on the garlands, just waiting to be filled up with yummy candies and goodies on Christmas day. These pretty colored things make me happy as I recall fond childhood memories.

It is not the pretty lights and brightly colored tinsels that excite my kids during the holidays. The spicy aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and molasses that wafts all the way from the kitchen to their bedrooms bring warm childhood memories. For the past 23 years, I have been baking Gingerbread Man Cookies during the first week of December. They associate Gingerbread cookies with Christmas along with the magical memories tied with it.

Baking Gingerbread cookies was not a childhood tradition though. It must have been mom’s last Christmas season when I first met the Gingerbread man cookies lying on our dinner table. Mom’s Sally’s Bake Shop In Cebu often experimented with new products, and as a default taste tester, I took a bite and loved it. Mom died a few months later from breast cancer. Perhaps I wanted to bring back my mom’s memories during the Christmas season by sharing something about her with my kids who never knew her. I decided to experiment with the Gingerbread Man Cookies. The recipe was a challenge because she did not leave any behind. Knowing my mom, she probably got it from Betty Crocker or in one of her baking books. After a lot of trial and error, I modified the original recipe and called it my very own Gingerbread Man cookies. Most gingerbread recipes contained too much ginger which children did not like. To add a magical touch to the Gingerbread cookies, I concocted a tale of the running Gingerbread Man.

As soon as the first batch of gingerbread men cookies are baked, my kids’ eyes lit up, so eager to eat them. I beg for patience because I want to read a story first. What I do is place a cookie on a plate and then gather my three kids around my arms. I bring out the picture book of the “The Gingerbread Man” and read it aloud to them. The story revolves around a baker who bakes a gingerbread man for his wife and himself. The gingerbread man comes to life, realizes his creator’s plans for him, and runs away. Everyone in town tries to eat him but he just keeps evading them until finally, a sly wolf tricks him into walking right into his jaws.

As soon as the story ends, my children runs towards the plate, now even more excited to eat the first gingerbread man of the year. To their surprise, the plate is empty. “The gingerbread man has escaped, find him!” The kids scramble all over the room searching for the missing gingerbread man until they find it hiding among the books or by the computer keyboard.

The kids are adults now and much too old for gingerbread games. I forgot how they found out that the gingerbread man never really ran away. I confessed many years later that I asked one of our helpers to hide the gingerbread man while they were distracted by the story. Were they bothered by the tale? One daughter says “that doesn’t keep me from feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside as gingerbread men bake in the oven and the house gets filled with the aroma of molasses and spice. I really should get around to learning how to make these cookies. This is a tradition I’d like to pass on to my children.

Though I don’t read the Gingerbread Man story anymore, I hang the cookies up as decorative edible items on the garlands of our kitchen and dining room. The kids share the cookies to their close friends or give it away as gifts.

This is just one of our special Christmas tradition in our family. Each family develops its own traditions. Sometimes we start new traditions, keep treasured traditions or discard a few that no longer apply. The thing that makes each holiday memorable is the unique spin your own family puts on tradition. Tradition is more than a right way to do something. The small rituals and customs that are repeated from year in and year out give our family something to anticipate While some traditions are passed on from generation to generation, I brought some of the old, added a few pieces of new and tweaked yesterday with today in hopes of creating another memory for tomorrow. These memories last forever.

Here is my Gingerbread Man Cookie recipe


For many years, my family greeted the Christmas season with great joy and heavy despair. Every Christmas without my son, I sensed my husband saying “I’m not ready yet….”I’m not ready for the annual flood of memories without Luijoe. “ Butch dreaded the sight of the cheerful Christmas decorations especially Santa Claus. I wasn’t ready either but I had two surviving children who wanted to celebrate Christmas. They experienced many magical Christmas memories so my daughter once wrote in a Christmas greeting card. How could I take that away from them? I tried to figure out how to handle the holidays I’m never going to be ready for in places I may never be settled in. I thought…as long as we have the stockings up and Christmas tree and cookies ready, then let the holidays come!

gingerbread garland

I decorated our new home (our new normal?) with the treasures that speak of our Christmas history, finding joy in the memories they sparked. As I caressed Luijoe’s stockings on my cheeks , the flood of memories spill out. It was even more stressful during the first Christmas without my son. I wasn’t ready for the clutch of pain that wrapped my heart in grief as I placed the ornaments on our tree. Oh yes, I have learned through the years. I brought some of the old, added a few pieces of new and practiced the art of blending yesterday with today in hopes of creating another memory for tomorrow. That’s how the “Christmas Angels theme” evolved in our home, in honor of our own angel, Luijoe.


I created two color themes for our Christmas decors, the traditional red and green for the informal family den and burgundy, purple and silver theme in the formal living area. Maybe I just wanted to be creative and innovated for the sake of my new normal , my new life without my son. I never got the chance to be in total despair because I baked Christmas goodies like sugar cookies , food for the gods, fruit cake and the Gingerbread man cookies. I started the Christmas Angel themes as a symbol that Luijoe is not far from home, that he lives with us. Joyful activities like baking and decorating proved therapeutic as it evoked feelings of love for my children. I continued to survive because of that love. The spicy aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and mace that wafted our house brought warm childhood memories. Blending this old tradition with new tradition helped me cope with grief during the holidays.

I notice the difference in my husband’s grief during the holidays. Butch is more cheerful. There are less tears yet I know the pain is still there. The heart never forgets, even when the world does. It looks like we’re getting better, improving either with time and patience. Or maybe because it is simply becoming a thread in the continuing fabric of our new normal. The fact that Butch bought Christmas Lanterns is a huge step in the grief journey during the dreaded holidays.

The change in mood happened six years ago. It came as a surprise when my husband wanted to go to Divisoria. I asked “what will we do there?”

His reply “buy ribbons”. I raised my eyebrows. We have never been to Divisoria together in the longest time. . Then he added “I noticed you are running out of red and green ribbons” . Wow, he noticed these minute details when in the past he was oblivious to anything that glittered in the household. I believe I learned to be more creative because of the artistic streak from my husband. He wanted me to have my usual supply of beautiful, color-coordinated ribbons to adorn our Christmas presents and cookie baskets. (Remember I have two sets of Christmas color themes?)


I look forward to the holiday season more than ever. I smile and sigh that finally my husband is able to handle the holidays a little bit better. I gather in my blessings and count them all. I count the blessings of the most important people in my life and I find the peace that comes with counting a holiday of joy remembered and love shared. Love never dies, and the light always shines in our hearts and home.

christmas family 2011

Other Articles on Coping with Grief during the Holidays
Handling the Holidays
How To Help Yourself Through The Holidays
Do I Celebrate the Holidays or Not?

Gingerbread ManOnce upon a Christmas season, a mother baked Gingerbread Men cookies to the delight of her three children who eagerly waited for the cookies to bake. The waft of molasses, cinnamon and spices excited them. “We’re hungry, mom!”. The mother told them to be patient and promised to read them the Story of the Gingerbread Man as soon as the cookies were baked.

She got three cookies and laid them on a platter.

“Can we eat the Gingerbread Man now?” The children tugged at their mom’s apron.

“Let’s read the Gingerbread Man story first so you know the legend…” the mother said and left the platter of cookies on the table. The three children and the mother huddled around the Christmas tree as she began to read…

Once upon a time a little old woman and a little old man lived in a cottage………
The little old woman and little old man were very hungry and wanted to eat the gingerbread man. As soon as he was cooked, the little old woman opened the oven door. The gingerbread man jumped out of the tin and ran out of the open window shouting, ‘Don’t eat me!’……..

The mother continued on until the end where the fox ate the Gingerbread Man.

“Did you like the story?”

“It’s sad that the fox ate the Gingerbread Man in the end. Can we now eat the Gingerbread Man Cookies? We’re not like the sly fox.” The children discussed among themselves.

“Sure…get your cookies on the plate.”

The three children turned to the platter…”Mom, look… the Gingerbread Man jumped out of the plate. He’s gone. ”

The mom looked surprised “Maybe he ran away… Let’s look for the Gingerbread Man”

The three children looked all over the house until each of them found their Gingerbread Man hidden in their toy chest.

The kids beamed with laughter “Silly Gingerbread Man. The fox will eat you anyway. Don’t run away now.”

And so this mother carried this tradition until the kids were older and wiser to know that the Gingerbread Man didn’t really ran away. By now you know I was that crazy mother. Hehe.

I instructed the kid’s yaya to hide it discreetly while I read the story to my three children.

For the past 20 or so years, I bake Gingerbread Man Cookies only because my crazy tale and the warm fuzzy feeling of christmas memories give my two older girls some comfort. The holidays are a wonderful time to fill my home with the aroma and fragrance of Christmas through baking Gingerbread Man and Christmas cookies. I ‘ve baked all sorts of Christmas goodies like Lemon Squares, Fruit Cake, Brandy Cake, Apple Pie, and other bar cookies but the demand of Gingerbread Man cookies are high on the list.

Though I don’t read the Gingerbread Man story anymore, I hang the cookies up on the garlands of our kitchen and dining area. The kids share the cookies to their close friends and they often say that they have never tasted a Gingerbread Man cookie.

Sure there are a few Gingerbread Man sold in other bakeshops. I bought the Gingerbread Man cookie in other bake shops but it tasted mostly of flour. Maybe because it’s not that easy to bake Gingerbread Man cookies . Our tropical climate makes the dough difficult to handle. Constant chilling is needed. Baking at the right temperature is tricky. If underbaked, the cookie crumbles easily. If overbaked, the cookie taste burnt and bitter. Still, I am sharing my Gingerbread Man Cookie recipe and the story for all to enjoy.

According to my girls, it’s the baking of the Gingerbread Man Cookies that evokes childhood memories of Christmas.