Here’s to the New Year

Hello, 2011! I hope you bring much more wealth, luck, and love.  And, to quote Ms. Congeniality, world peace.  Our New Year’s Eve celebration turned out to be quieter and simpler than the past years’.  It’s a sign of the times I think, when godchildren fail to show.  Usually, if they can’t come pay their respects and get their gifts (those still well within grade school to senior high age), they line up right before New Year’s Eve and on the day. I have long resorted to money gifts instead of doing up a much more complex shopping list ( I know, no back story gifts) because most of them prefers it.  They come from everywhere (so to speak) so their parents had to shell out bus fare and such and getting a bit of money at least helps parlay some of the cost.  Besides, I can never remember how old they were or figure out what’s an appropriate, welcome gift - I hardly see them or hear from their parents the rest of the year.  A note: most of my godchildren are sons and daughters of people I’ve worked with or ‘sponsored’ at one point or other.  They’re hard up or barely making it, raised by single moms mostly.   I’ve had godchildren since I was in high school.  I love kids see, so do my parents.  We tended to ‘borrow’ neighbors’ kids and their single mom would usually leave the baby with us when they go to work.  I’ve been changing nappies and feeding other people’s babies since forever, so when my twin nephews came along, let’s just say I’ve had tons of practice. 

Anyway, we aren’t rich but we try to help out as much as we can.   I’ve shelled out some milk and schoolbook money, graduation fees (not tuition, I didn’t have that much), bought diapers and baby food or a hundred or so for a Jollibee treat.  This is why I am godmother come baptism or confirmation. 

There was a six year old kid who steals out of his house and goes to ours the minute his parents start fighting.  He’d be lugging a teddy bear and a pillow. When his parents separated, he was on our free ‘daycare’ list until his mom found a better paying job.  He grew up just fine : )

The no-shows this year is likely due to higher travel expense and inconvenience versus lower ‘take’ value (hehehe).  Or everybody plain stayed home - to avoid traffic and risk maiming of body parts by some accidental or intentional firecracker blast.  There’s the other extreme of celebrating with a hotel dinner and countdown package, a mall sponsored or other fireworks display, picnicking by dancing fountains, free concerts, an all nighter at an amusement park.  My version of the New York ball drop is popping a confetti canon, which I clean forgot to do!  See, I got too tired to do anything, not even to do my goals list like my friend Cha taught me to do.  Reminds me of this other ritual I heard about: you list down wishes on a piece of paper and bury it in a planter or under a tree – if plant or tree grows (healthy) your wishes come true.

All sorts of rituals to prepare for the New Year went kaput – we didn’t get to buy a single ‘fountain’ light.   We had more food at Christmas dinner than New Year’s when its more important.  My mom would have placed new coins from the gate all the way to the top of our stairs so money will come in; spanking new bills in our wallets; 12 grapes eaten at the stroke of midnight; new red slippers; pineapple hanging over the front door etc (I draw the line at polka dot outfits)! None of these got done.

Admittedly, most of these rituals are borrowed from the Chinese.
No matter, tradition dies hard.  By 9pm I was fretting about not having this or that, though I did tell my mom if you put out coins then you’re not going to get seriously big money lol!  I did bake two cakes to compliment the 13 round fruits.

I baked a strawberry shortcake with strawberry jam in it, icing and fresh strawberry slices on top.  The other was a three layer chocolate and marshmallow frosted cake with chocolate sprinkles.  I made the cocoa filling extra dark to go with toasted pecans as a “side”, I didn’t mix it in. Delish!
I made crinkles too - lemon sugar and buko pandan with macapuno folded in, the last inspired by my suman indulgence. I love the smell anyway and they're really yummy!

A whole bagful of pecans came with Tita Emma’s care package, couriered after Christmas, so I’m happy.  I love pecans, especially in Chef Jackie Ang Po’s pecan pie at Fleur de Lys cafe. I love nuts period.  You should also try Nuts About You (if I remember it right, her cakes are named after a movie title), a lovely macadamia nut pie that’s best with a scoop of mint and vanilla ice cream. I don’t have a picture of my New Year cakes for some reason, but here’s a smaller version I made before, with grated chocolate.

We had ham, which mom cooked in apricot syrup (sweetish) because we didn’t have pineapple. We had barbecued pork chops (yum), spaghetti, plenty of bread and soda. So we would “stick together” as a family (groan, does that mean I’d be single another year) we have two kinds of suman (glutinous rice).  I didn’t style the table. I was still in my housedress, even. Aargh. That’s the concept behind all the prep: if new year rolled around and caught you looking frumpy and your wallet empty, that's how you'll be all year! Do I believe in all these? At one point, you see the logic of it.  I can’t put it as succinctly and in all authority as Reiko Gomez.  In a nutshell, you get as good as you give or present to the Universe.

The New Year caught us thusly: my mom watching the variety special countdown on TV while my dad, my youngest brother and I gave points to two neighbors who vies each year for best fireworks extravaganza.  Maybe that’s how they got to be rich, they spend so much on fireworks to light up enough sky there’s no room for shadowy bad luck and vibes.  I recognized Boracay Dreams, rockets, and 16 shots Wow Philippines.  Then we ate. Cleaned up. New Year’s day my other brother and his family (the twins) had lunch with us.  Otherwise, it was way quiet. This week the race is on: eat leftovers, cakes, sweets and fruits before they go to waste. 

P.s.  Bought a new card reader but still had problems transferring pictures.  Good thing there's the tech and


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