Christmas Bags of Hope

For it is in giving that we receive- Francis of Assisi

Many of life's precious gifts are birthed. Christmas is grace demonstrated with the babe Jesus born in a lowly manger. There are traditions carved by time, cultures, religious beliefs, and by families who want to hold on to what they value. It's my pleasure to share our family Christmas tradition, and how it is evolving.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mom's Christmas SoupOur family upcoming "Martha S", my niece NikkaOne of mom's signature dishes, Chicken with Olives and Chorizo de BilbaoLeche FlanHomemade Yema, by my sister HelenGifts, gifts, giftsShopping that takes us everywhereIt's about our faithAnna, grandmas clonePaella
Mom's Christmas Soup
Mom's Christmas Soup
Our family upcoming "Martha S", my niece Nikka
Our family upcoming "Martha S", my niece Nikka
One of mom's signature dishes, Chicken with Olives and Chorizo de Bilbao
One of mom's signature dishes, Chicken with Olives and Chorizo de Bilbao
Leche Flan
Leche Flan
Homemade Yema, by my sister Helen
Homemade Yema, by my sister Helen
Gifts, gifts, gifts
Gifts, gifts, gifts
Shopping that takes us everywhere
Shopping that takes us everywhere
It's about our faith
It's about our faith
Anna, grandmas clone
Anna, grandmas clone
Paella
Paella

Mom's Christmas Made Tradition

There's mama, our very own version of Martha Stewart, but more amazing. Imagine raising seven children hands on. The magician homemaker, mom ran our home like a highly paid company CEO, CFO, Ship Captain, name it! She was sharp and impeccable. No doubt, Christmas was her grandest production where she put all her talent to use. It's still hard to figure out where she drew strength, remain cool, glamorous, and still manage to create a spectacular and unforgettable family Christmas night. What a woman! What a giver! We felt the love and do we miss it so much.

I have no doubt that i love Christmas because of her. She poured herself to giving our family joy and happiness. What an awesome event planner! She didn't just decide on an intricate menu, she did all the cooking of each dish from scratch. She even had time to shop and get us gifts she knew we wanted. We were always surprised, for both parents spared nothing to give each child the best. A fashionista, she no less, expected us to look good wearing our holiday clothes she either bought or sewed. The highlight of the evening was when we were called to sit around the big long table to partake of a sumptuous and delicious signature dinner. Dad would say a thanksgivng prayer first, and as soon as he says Amen, was our signal to attack the most delightful food. Yum, yum, yum! A music loving family, Christmas carols played non stop, and we loved to sing along and dance. The meaning of Christmas was made real by loving parents, and we re-live it every year, like they are still with us.

This is why Christmas transforms me to sublime wonderment. Yes, no matter what is going on this this world, i am a totally different person come Christmastime. I'm aware that others will not understand this joyful insanity, and that's alright. I respect all religion, but i don't apologize for my belief, and i never hide how much i adore the Christ of my Christmas. To me, it is the most wonderful time of the year. It means celebrating family ties, blessings received, and acknowledging my personal faith in God. Our family Christmas tradition remains strong, a legacy we will pass on from generation to generation.

Yet, we change, and the world around us is changing. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye when people are hurting, hungry and dying from hopelessness.

Which brings me to share the birthing of a new family tradition.

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They deserve to be happyMix mini toysGoodie Bags Team sandwichOodles of noodlesRelief shippedA future actor. or entertainer?They have a voiceThey learn to prayNaked streetkid
They deserve to be happy
They deserve to be happy
Mix mini toys
Mix mini toys
Goodie Bags
Goodie Bags
Team sandwich
Team sandwich
Oodles of noodles
Oodles of noodles
Relief shipped
Relief shipped
A future actor. or entertainer?
A future actor. or entertainer?
They have a voice
They have a voice
They learn to pray
They learn to pray
Naked streetkid
Naked streetkid

Giftbags of Hope

It's been several years since my daughter shared her thoughts, and wish to do something for the streetchildren of Manila. It was a confirmation of my own desire to put my faith into action. Going to church has allowed us to listen to sermons for our edification, pray and fellowship with others, and to serve in ministries of our choice. But, there came a point when it was time to take things further, and step into uncharted places. This led to the birthing of an outreach to bring hope to a growing population of streetchildren.

Sadly, there is a serious divide in the Philippines, between the rich and the poor. This situation is not made easy especially during Christmas when this difference becomes more obvious. The priviledged go into a frenzy of partying, shopping,and preparing for the big Christmas dinner called "Noche Buena". The entire metropolis is lit up to signify the message of joy to the world. But, this is unreal to many families who live like rats, in their makeshift homes. There is no hope and they feel no love.

So, every year, in some litlle way, we make Christmas bags, and ship boxes of used clothes donated by kindhearted friend. We mobilize members of our family, and their friends, to help us distribute to hundreds of families, and streekids. We share the blessings of food, and a message of hope, praying that this act of kindness during Christmas will make a difference. The smiles we have seen gives us a glimmer of something good. In touching their lives, they have changed ours. Because they know someone cared, they see the world is not so bad after all. They can dream. There is hope.

So, as we approach Christmas, and enjoy the gift of abundance, let's think about the world around us.

To borrow William Bourn's credo: FiLoLi (The name of his garden estate i visited recently)

"Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life."

My special thanks go to the young "Marthas" in our family, and numerous dear friends who share the love and true meaning of Christmas, where it counts.

Comments 20 comments

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a beautiful tradition!

We also do something similar every Christmas. Just seeing the smiles of people is enough reason to go on with this tradition.

God bless!


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii Author

Thanks Jill! It's been sometime since i've written here, and im just happy for you, my first visitor and your nice comment. Happy thanksgiving!


Nikka 6 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving Tita Sylvia! Cheers to holidays celebrating love and giving. It's only fitting Christmas is your favorite holiday--you have the heart and generosity it symbolizes : )


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii Author

Thanks Nikka. It's in the DNA, and you defintely have it! Love and hugs.


annie 6 years ago

Thank you Mam SVV, Happy thanksgiving too. I know you have a big heart and very generous to everybody. Your a wonderful person and I admire and love you most. Christmas is giving I want to give and share also. Love you..


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii Author

God bless you Annie. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the ok.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

I have a lot of admiration for what you do. The GiftBags of hope idea is excellent, that way no kid misses out - Rich or Poor.

You are right. We can't continue to turn a blind eye.

God Bless you for doing this. :)


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii Author

We try our best, and they may be small efforts, but to make children smile is quite rewarding. Thanks for your comment Lady_E! Blessings to you too!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

This is a true Christmas hub and I am sure the gifts you give will come back to you and your family. Thank you for sharing.


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii Author

Hello hello! It is with much joy we give these bags. Thanks, and have a very merry Christmas!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

WOW - really, I love this hub more than any other Christmas article I've read this year! I'm going to take inspiration from you and post about Christmas Bags of Hope on my blog, too. Merry Christmas!!


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

How sweet of you Stephicks!!! Merry Christmas!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Your traditions sound delicious and your family joining together to make the bags is just wonderful. Keep up the good work. =:)


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

Thank you Winsome!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Beautiful again! God bless!


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

God bless and merry Christmas Mickey!


ME!!!! 5 years ago

I hope you have a very merry CHRISTMAS!!!


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

Thanks ME!!!! Merry Christmas to you too!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Hi IslandVoice, I did publish a post on my blog, peachygreen.com linking to this awesome hub! Cheers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Steph


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

Much thanks Steph! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a grand 2011!

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