Amusingly wild and rowdy, totally a surprise, but immensely fun. That’s what my unexpected birthday greeting was the eve of my birthday at Kalesa, a brightly decorated Filipino restaurant in Milpitas, California, where customers are greeted with oversized glittering Christmas wreaths hung outside the restaurant’s glass walls, and inside, an exquisite and well-appointed display of paintings, multi-colored lights and other artistic holiday décor.
Gigi and Lani, upon hearing it was birthday dinner that we celebrated at the restaurant, rushed to the kitchen to concoct a surprise. Just as my group was readying to leave, since we were the last customers remaining that late night, a loud pop blared out of the microphone followed by rousing music. It seemed like the big bang of a starting disco. Voila, Gigi and Lani waltzed out with tambourines for a rowdy birthday song and greeting. Didn’t expect that. A sizeable mound of coconut ube ice cream topped with a slender candle was set before me. My dinner hosts: my sister Susan, brother-in-law Mario, their daughter Shirley and her husband Craig were just as surprised, and in the midst of robust laughter and merrymaking, I heard urges to blow, blow, blow!
All year through, we wait for the magic of Christmas. Something so vibrant and precious. Is it in the nippy air? Is it in the sultry smell of burning logs in fireplaces at wintry nights? Is it in the carols we hear? Is it in the gifts we give and receive? No, the magic is really in the heart.
Through my baby boomer years, I’ve carried a valuable collection of memories of Christmases recent and past. Every year, there was always something different and special. Something uniquely endearing. The common thread that ran through all glistened with zesty anticipation, tingly excitement, and distinct joy. Emotions that fill the heart with sheer gladness.
Yet, not all, related to the giving and receiving season, glittered in gold. Not all showed the bounty of commercialism or wealth. Not all came from money. But my Christmas experiences woven from simple delights were the richest, because the magic was in the heart.
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