Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts

Thursday, November 7, 2013

6 great items that relatives abroad can send through balikbayan boxes

If you are like most Pinoys who have relatives abroad, you likely receive a Balikbayan box full of goodies around the end of this year or the beginning of next year.  My family is one of these families, as my sisters in law are based in the US and my mom is also staying in the US for about six months.

While we appreciate their generosity, and much of the stuff that they send is indeed good, there is a dark side: this usually means that we get mountains of candies, chocolates, chips, and other junk food and overly processed products that have lost much of their nutritive value.  As a father who is into health and wellness, I usually cringe when the balikbayan boxes arrive.  Even if you don’t have the same views as I do, you’d probably notice that your children will binge on these newly arrived sweets and often will get sick as a result.  Not good at all.

I think there’s a better way: ask your relatives to send you alternatives.  This is also an opportunity to snag great finds for you and your family, finds that are either not available here or are expensive.  Allow me to help you by listing down six great items that relatives abroad can send through their Balikbayan boxes.  Nearly all of these are food-related, as you shall see.  Let’s begin.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from yours truly

Here’s a mime presentation that the Kids Church did several years ago (when my teenage daughter, Lynn, one of the participants, was just around 9 years old).  Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 10 Non-Traditional Christmas Songs

As Christmas draws near, I’m sure your ears are gonna be saturated with timeless Christmas classics like Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Joy To The World, among many others.

Well, if you’re in the mood for something different, but you’re still willing to feel the Christmas spirit, then there are lots of non-traditional Christmas songs that you can enjoy (and, no, it’s not just All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey).  In fact, if you live in Cagayan de Oro, then the local Christian station here, The New J 103.3 FM plays Christmas songs all throughout December (non-traditional songs as well as modernized versions of the classics).

I’m friends with the guy who runs the show over there at The New J, John de Cleene, and he was kind enough to share with me his Top Ten Non-Traditional Christmas songs.  I’m going to give those top ten songs below, with a brief intro by John, himself, and with an accompanying video if possible.  The names are also Amazon links in case you’d like to buy them.  Enjoy John’s Top Ten Non-Traditional Christmas Songs!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone, from the Lessons Of A Dad (and the rest of the Alado family as well).

Here’s my favorite non-traditional Christmas song by Chris Tomlin (of Indescribable and How Great Is Our God fame). Mom, thanks for buying me his CD for Christmas! It’s a fantastic CD, maybe the best Christmas CD I’ve ever heard.

Indeed, Lord Jesus, we celebrate You today, because You were born so we may have life.

To my brothers and sisters in Cagayan de Oro, here’s another Chris Tomlin song that I’d like to feature here, imploring today’s Celebrant to show us His light in the recent darkness, and to give us strength and hope in that indeed, “greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city!”

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I want for Christmas is you…daddy

Presents are cool.  But dad's company?  Better.
For a while, I was starting to forget that Lessons Of A Dad is primarily a blog about parenting, as I’ve been a bit preoccupied with blogging about Typhoon Sendong’s rampaging of Cagayan de Oro City (if you still haven’t helped, pls do so).  So, I need to shake this off and go back to my usual blogging theme.

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You has been ringing in my ears for a while now.  Why?  I’ll save that for a later post, but let’s just say that I’ve been hearing the song a LOT lately, and it’s not just in the shopping malls, being among the more popular Christmas songs being played there. 

While the song is obviously about a woman wanting nothing for Christmas but her beau to come back into her arms, I’ve reflected on some parts of the lyrics and I could see the heart of my children as well…my children longing for me.

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you

I’m a teacher, and right now I’m on Christmas break along with my kids.  The two weeks prior were very hectic, with lots of all-nighters and hours of overtime at work.  I barely had time for them.  Every morning we’d wake up and then immediately scramble to get to school, and then I’d come home at night and grumpily shoo them off to sleep.  Not a very good performance from this so-called dad blogger.

As soon as the first morning of Christmas break hit, my kids (especially my son) made sure that they got my attention and demanded that we do stuff together.  So now, less than a week into the break we’ve gone to the park and on several “dates” (where I give some fun and undivided quality time with only one child, no spouse or other children allowed). 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas message from yours truly – plus the Christmas story told thru Facebook

As I write this, it’s nearly 3 AM Christmas morning. We just threw one heck of a party (that honored the Celebrant, of course…no drinking or debauchery.) and wifey is out cold while the kids are still getting themselves to sleep.

Before I’m out for the night…er, morning; I’d like to thank you all for visiting my page. Your visits, and especially your comments, truly make my day, and I hope I can continue to write articles on parenting, faith, and the everyday life of a family living in CDO with the frequency that I’ve been doing every since I started here.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I’d like to leave you with a very nice video. Would you like to know what would happen if Facebook was around during Mary and Joseph’s time? Well, enjoy…and may the Reason for the Season richly dwell in your hearts!

“… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:20-23)

Once again, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A parenting word about gift giving

This is a reprint and modification of a blog I made years ago.  Hope you enjoy it.

It’s Christmas time again, and one of the SOPs of this time of year is gift giving.  For me, the frequency of gift giving is pretty intense during the ‘ber months.  My birthday is in October, my wife’s in November.  My two oldest children were born in December and October, respectively.  Then there’s the manic gift giving of Christmas…and for me that means buying a gift for the Kris cringles of all three of my kids, my work Christmas party, my small group’s Christmas party, and my mom’s small group’s party…and…and…it’s just so much.

Over the years, my wife and I, and especially our kids, have received tons of gifts.  Unfortunately, many of these gifts are not necessarily beneficial to the ones who receive them.

I have attended many parenting talks hosted by my church community (Christ’s Commission Fellowship, or CCF for short, a great disciple-making church located downtown), and often times, the verse Luke 2:52 comes up.  It is the last verse of Jesus’ childhood, and it goes:

“and Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and man.”

Here’s a great model of how a child should grow.  Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually) and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially).  Everything that we do with our kids should be purposeful in developing these four areas.  To me, that “everything” should include gift giving.  I have made it a point that whenever I give a gift, it should help develop the recipient intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Allow me, oh gift-givers, to list down what I’d stray away from when I shop for gifts (very un-Luke 2:52).  I’m sure this list in not extensive, but it’s a great start.

A dentist’s worst nightmare
1.  Candy.  Often times, loved ones (especially from abroad) will shower my kids with huge bags of candy.  I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think it’s the best thing for them. The reasons are obvious: bad teeth, negative nutritional value, and bad dietary habits (it will take many, many days of constant junk-food binging to finish these bags).  I actually tell them my concerns here and instead advise them to give dried berries & trail mix goodies instead. Generally, the relatives comply.

2.  Toy guns.  I was advised by a great parent and mentor not to buy guns for my son, because they do nothing for him except allow him to make-believingly act out violent scenes.  I totally agree.  Kids don’t need to pretend-shoot their friends, and they won’t benefit or learn anything from doing so.  Remember, the young child is constructing himself—and if that construction involves “bang, bang—you’re dead”…well, he may not ever shoot anyone, but he’s not learning the best values, either.

3.  Violent programs/cartoons.  A mentor of mine often says that kids of a certain age tend to hero worship and tend try to be like the heroes they idolize.  Now, if the moral example they get is very violent, what will be absorbed in their little heads?  I know some irresponsible parents who allow their kids to watch violent programs (explicative-filled action movies, reality boxing shows, etc.), and then their kids run out and re-enact the scenes on the playground.  Even children’s programs themed on “good guy beats the tar out of the bad guy” shouldn’t be shown to very young audiences.

4.  Video games.  Same story as above plus (and this is a HUGE plus) they are very, very addicting…I should know.  I have some video games for the kids in the computer, but they’re usually puzzle games or ones that teach typing skills.  Still, kids today are quite sedentary compared to previous generations, and so the gifts given should encourage them to get out some (grow in stature, remember?).  Video games, with few exceptions, don’t do that.

5.  Media or toy franchises that promote vanity or self-consciousness.  With all the narcissism that gets pounded into our minds every day, the last thing my kids need is some Bratz merchandise that will make them more conscious of “strutting their stuff” and all other emotions focused on self.  I want my kids to be modest and others-centered.  Their Christian and Montessori backgrounds do a good job there, but they can’t be totally sheltered from all the “spaghetti pababa” (a suggestive Filipino song) stuff out in the world.  Me, as a gift-giver, will not promote that culture to the kids I give gifts to.

This season, I will do my utmost in choosing gifts that help the recipient grow in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God, and man.  If I have time, I’d post a blog with my recommendations on Luke 2:52 gifts.  Stay tuned.  Oh, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Permit the children to come to Me

I’ll never forget what the head of the Children’s Ministry program of the church I go to told me and several volunteers in a training session many years ago.  (The church is Christ’s Commission Fellowship or CCF for short.)

She told of the very familiar scene, mentioned at least three times in the Bible, where Jesus was speaking to a crowd, and there were parents in the audience who wanted to bring their kids to meet Jesus so that He could bless them.  But the disciples, who I guess were concerned that doing so would waste their Master’s valuable time, stopped them in their tracks.  Here’s the story, as told in Mark 10: 13-16.

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

15 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

The trainer’s challenge was this: if we don’t pay attention to our Children’s Ministry; if we don’t give our absolute best effort for these kids week in and week out; then aren’t we doing the exact same thing that the disciples were doing?  We’re hindering the children from being blessed by Christ!

Wow.  I never thought of it that way.  I’ll have to admit, I didn’t look forward to my stint as a Sunday school teacher, and I’m sure there were others who feel the same way.  But man, if my rotten attitude made me a hindrance that kept these young souls from being blessed by Christ, then shame on me.

What made this even bigger was that when the disciples got in the way of the children, Jesus was indignant.  Do you know what that means?  Encarta’s definition is: “angry at the apparent unfairness of something.”  So if your church doesn’t pay much attention to its children’s ministry, or worse, doesn’t have a children’s ministry at all…we are making Him indignant.  I love Christ too much to knowingly disappoint him so greatly.

If bringing children to our Lord was so important for Him then; then we, as His hands and feet, should consider it equally as important now.

Well, I now, even if I have to miss our powerful Sunday messages for a month, look forward to my turn with the kids.  CCF’s bench of volunteers has grown so huge that my group and I only have to do this once a year (Yay!  Oh, I mean, awwww!), but we still get involved during special times of the year…and this is one of those times.

I was placed to be in charge of the 6-8 y.o. class’ Christmas presentation.  This is the youngest class I’ve ever held, and boy did I get a culture shock.  I usually handle the 10-12 class, and they’re very behaved and mature.  But these guys…wow, I was putting more effort in quieting them down than instructing.  But I’m very excited for our presentation.  I’ve been staying up late getting it ready…and I think, Lord be praised, it’s going to be grrrreat!

I can’t give details on what I’m cooking up (people will kill me if I give spoilers), but I’m so excited that I can’t help but give you one song I’m using for one half of the presentation.  It’s Strange Way to Save the World, a beautiful song by Jump5.  I heard it first from my eldest daughter because she has their CD, but I’m sure you hear it on the Christian radio at this time of the year (103.3FM).  Below is a vid from youtube featuring the song with its beautiful lyrics.

For the rest of the presentation, I am hoping to use my goofy sense of humor and the cuteness of these kids to make something really special.  I can’t give more details than that…you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

Actually, this month is gonna be awesome, because during each Sunday service, there would be at least two groups who would give special numbers.  We want to show how fun it is in our church and how great it is to be part of such a vibrant Christian community.  Here is the sched of presentations:

December 12: singles (always a hit); kids 9-12 (Lynn and Mesoo, my 2 eldest kids, will perform)

December 19: adult d-groups (yes, my mom will perform); kids 6-8 (this is the one I’m working on)

December 26: young couples (including my group); kids 3-5 (Happy, my youngest, is in this one, with my wife teaching the song/dance).

If you’d like to come watch the performances and to get to know our culture a little bit, we’d be happy to welcome you to CCF.  The church is located at Papa Juanito’s Square, just across the street from Robinson’s car park entrance.  The performances would be on the 10AM services.

I’d now like to show you some of the presentations done in the past.  Enjoy.

A mime presentation of “We Are The Reason,” Christmas Party 2008.  Lynn was in this one…somewhere.

Sunday School 3-5 class song, “Be Brave, Be Strong,” Mother’s Day (?) 2009.  Happy is the little guy in Maroon.

Sunday School 8-9 and 10-12 classes singing “He Knows My Name.” Father’s Day 2010 or 2009.  Lynn and Mesoo are both here.

Practice of the kids who volunteered to play the flute for Mother’s Day 2010.  Lessons were free.  All three of my kids were participants.

I’m looking forward to adding Christmas 2010 to this list of memories and ministry.  If you’d like to visit, see you then.  🙂

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