Leaving home is no feat. And spending holidays without your people? It's awful. Homesickness will haunt your core. Stress, anxiety, and loneliness will be your three enemies when dealing with constant longing.
Doing travel nursing is one of the best decisions I've made, and I don't know any other career path that is more appropriate for me than what I have right now. However, one major downside of it is being away from your comfort zone. That doesn't get to my nerves anymore because I've been working overseas for three years now. And I love it. Luis, on the other hand, had never left his hometown before we ventured into travel nursing. So it's natural for him to feel more homesick than I do.
This Christmas is his first Christmas away from home. This Christmas is also the same holiday that I'm not in my permanent flat. But that doesn't mean we don't get to experience Christmas, because love find ways. Lol, cheesy❤️
This photo was taken from my permanent flat. I bought some Christmas-themed pieces last November. During that time, I was still convinced that we'd be celebrating our Christmas in the valley. But, here we are in Lufkin just a month after! 😂
I was planning to buy some Christmas lights, at least, to have something in our temporary crib but Luis doesn't like the idea of it because it'd take some space when we move again. And he's right.
So what did we do, really?
Here are some ways to put extra holiday ambience to your temporary home:
Light up those scented candles
Aside from its relaxation properties, candles can also set the mood in your home. While you can choose essential oils and fragrance sprays over candles due to fire hazard reasons, they have been known as Christmas symbol for ages. The warmth it gives to a certain place is just so homey!
We chose Pine and Apple&Evergreen scents because they are Christmas related. My other favorite candle scents are pumpkin waffle (You should try this one!) and vanilla caramel. Get yours here.
Now, you might read some negative effects of scented candles, like it might cause cancer, asthma, those kinds of stuff. (Refer to Huffington Post)
According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well.
“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann added. “They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”
Researchers at South Carolina State University tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes. Their 2009 report concluded that while the vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any potentially harmful pollutants, the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air,” said chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi in a statement.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” Massoudi said.
The National Candle Association refutes these claims, stating in a comment to The Huffington Post: “The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use. The fragrances approved for candle usage — whether synthesized or ‘natural’ — do not release toxic chemicals. Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests.”
2. Prepare your favorite holiday treat
For us, it's Christmas meltaway cookies. Meltaway cookies are a soft, lightly sweet shortbread cookie that literally melts away in your mouth. Okay, I didn't bake this one. I got ours from Walmart.
Cookies are Luis' favorite treat. And having ready to eat cookies in our kitchen brings wonders to his mood. Lol. I don't like baking in general so I don't have any go-to ingredients for this. But I was able to search one that matches what we got so HERE:
Yield: 20 cookies
¾ cup butter (1½ sticks, or 14 Tbsp), room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract
red & green sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Add vanilla. Mix well.
3. Combine the salt and flour. Add to the batter. Mix until dough clumps together.
4. Scoop cookie dough onto silicone lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in powdered sugar.
5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 12 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake.
6. Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze adding extra milk 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. (Keep it slightly thick, a little milk goes a long way.) Spoon on top of cooled cookies.
7. Immediately shake sprinkles on top of wet glaze. Allow glaze to harden. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.
3. Have a sip of some peppermint drink
Sorry for the burnt mallows, I just like it toasted (for more caramel flavor). This is by far my favorite experimental drink I've made. I bought peppermint candies, crushed and sprinkled them on top of my Swiss Miss Chocolate drink with marshmallows. This hot drink is perfect before sleeping! We usually drink this after work so we can have a good rest.
Also, I got the idea from Ihop's chocolate drink.
4. Play your Christmas playlist
Click here for the Playlist that we play every morning.
Luis also plays Christmas songs from Youtube. It became a habit that we seriously enjoyed. Although he gets annoyed when I sing along. 😅
Okay, this may not be suited for the holiday vibe of this post but I just find it poetic. The timing is just perfect:
As BBC News reported and Michael’s publicist confirmed, George Michael died Christmas Day at age 53. He is the star beyond the iconic song, Last Christmas.
Mind blowing, right? Of all the days, of all the holidays, he died on Christmas day. We've played this song endless times! I even did my knock knock joke (song related) to Luis!
December 25,2015 who?
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
December 26,2015 who?
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
You just never know when your last Christmas will be. But maybe his spirit knew. And isn't a good time to go? With high spirits everywhere, carolers in the streets, happy scenes scattered in malls and in homes, such a good time to be alive, too! It's just me and my poetic self talking. Don't mind it.
5. Order a Holiday special at your favorite restaurant
If you don't plan to cook, go to your favorite restaurant and order their Holiday special on Christmas morning.
We didn't have the time to roam around because we worked both Christmas eve and Christmas night. So we figured going to our favorite breakfast place will do. And of course, don't have to guess, it's Ihop!
Annddd that's about it for this holiday post.
Just kidding. Last but not the least:
6. Gift giving
These gifts are actually from his family. And we love everything in this box!
From cookies to shoes to leggings and pens, they sure know how to make it personal. You see, it's not about expensive gifts. It may be cliche to say this, but it is really the thought that counts. This year, I gave him a leather jacket. He didn't bring one going here because he never thought it'll be cold this season, considering Lufkin's still Texas. Good thing, he left his jacket in my flat and I thought of bringing it with me. That jacket though is not as appropriately insulated as the one I bought. And honestly, he asked for that gift. Practicality goes a long way, they say. We went to Houston and roamed around Galleria mall and found one that suits him best at Macy's. It's INC hooded jacket with removable hood, drawstring closure. Its original cost is
$225, but we got it for only $95.90! If you want to purchase one for you with the same discount, go ahead and click >>this<<< and enter code: JOY upon checkout.
Could you guess what he gave me?
The art of fixing what I thought I never needed. Okay, that's too dramatic.
Last September, we went to HEB after our cruise getaway, and unfortunately, I dropped my phone against a metal bar at the bottom of the ice cream stall. My screen was broken (and it's not the tapered glass you guys!). So for three months, my phone has cracks all over it, I sometimes chip my thumbs. So when we went for gift shopping, we stopped by CELLTECH. It is a one stop for your repair needs, from cellphones, to tablets to laptops. They also specialize in carrying unique and trendy cellphone accessories. They have two trained professionals who patiently assisted us in finding the right case for my phone.
It's almost closing time (0930PM), and I thought they won't accept my phone anymore, but props to their tech team! They repaired it for only 10 minutes. It costs $235, all in all, including my new phone case which is shock and water-resistant. I didn't ask for a gift so my Luis, being the thoughtful guy that he is, paid for everything. I volunteered to pay for the case but he insisted to pay the whole amount. Here is the breakdown: $150 for repair, $60 for the phone case, and the remaining $10 for taxes. The moral of the story: Don't ever drop your phone! And invest in tapered glass! You just never know when your phone's going to give up on you and your tantrums. Lol.
My 2016 Christmas is different from my other Christmases. Last year, I celebrated it with my family and friends in the Philippines. It was fun-filled and I was hyper most of the time. This year, it was quiet and relaxed. Plus, I was with Luis and Pumpkin. During my **single** ages aka boring years, I'd always wish to celebrate this season with someone I love.
You know, sharing a cup of warm drink on this cold and cuddle weather. This year is THAT year. All those years of waiting and praying and hoping that someone is out there waiting for me to be his other half, they just made sense. Love is truly worth the wait.
Christmas time is that time of the year when you acknowledge Christ's presence in your life. Isn't he the reason for this season? Aside from the things that everybody look forward to- gifts, travel and all- we should keep in mind that Christmas is never about the physical things. It's about the never-ending grace from our creator. We live because He died for us and our sins thousands of years ago. We love because He first loved us. We give because He had given us everything. We forgive because He had forgiven us even before we commit our earthly sins. (Related post: Christmas story)
If ever you don't celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason, please know that my happy soul is reaching out to you! It may be Happy Hannukah to you, or just another ordinary day. I don't know, but I want you to feel that wherever you are, whatever season you are in right now, you are loved and adored!
How did your December 25th go? Share your story!
If you’re looking for the best source of a Christmas story, go get your Bible. No really. I’m not kidding.
Here are some bible verses that tell us what happened on Christmas years ago:
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Malachi 3:1-4 (KJV)
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Micah 5:2-3 (CEB)
As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days. Therefore, he will give them up until the time when she who is in labor gives birth. The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel.
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 40:1-2, 9 (GW)
“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to it that its time of hard labor is over and its wrongs have been paid for. It has received from the Lord double for all its sins.” Go up a high mountain, Zion. Tell the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Jerusalem. Tell the good news! Raise your voice without fear. Tell the cities of Judah: “Here is your God!”
Hebrews 1:1-2 (HCSB)
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.
Luke 1:26-35 (ICB)
During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”
But Mary was very confused by what the angel said. Mary wondered, “What does this mean?”
The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant. You will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and people will call him the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I am a virgin!”
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. The baby will be holy. He will be called the Son of God.
Matthew 1:18-23 (PHILLIPS)
The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. When Mary was engaged to Joseph, just before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant—by the Holy Spirit. Whereupon Joseph, her future husband, who was a good man and did not want to see her disgraced, planned to break off the engagement quietly. But while he was turning the matter over in his mind an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife! What she has conceived is conceived through the Holy Spirit, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus (‘the Saviour’) for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”
All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet—‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’. (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”)
Luke 2:1-7 (CEV)
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.
Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes[d] and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8-20 (NET)
Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds said. But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean. So the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.
Matthew 2:1-12 (NIrV)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose. Now we have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard about it, he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was troubled too. So Herod called together all the chief priests of the people. He also called the teachers of the law. He asked them where the Messiah was going to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied. “This is what the prophet has written. He said,
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are certainly not the least important among the towns of Judah.
A ruler will come out of you.
He will rule my people Israel like a shepherd.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the Wise Men. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report it to me. Then I can go and worship him too.”
After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.
John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 3:16-17 (NRSV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 20:31 (NABRE)
But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Hebrews 1:3 (VOICE)
This is the One who—imprinted with God’s image, shimmering with His glory—sustains all that exists through the power of His word. He was seated at the right hand of God once He Himself had made the offering that purified us from all our sins.
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God”