Sunday, November 25, 2012

Early Christmas with the neighbors

The centerpiece for each table
of the neighborhood Christmas party

Tonight my neighborhood organized our pretty grand annual neighborhood Christmas party.

The event begins with a formal lighting of the two giant Christmas trees we have, decorated by top holiday decor firm Color It Christmas, and then we have cocktails and a huge dinner spread coordinated by the Peninsula Manila and made possible by the generosity of residents of the neighborhood.


I really like my neighborhood as there's a lot of camaraderie and people really look out for each other. We're often in each other's houses, and if you want company, there's always someone to text for dinner.

All the children play together and the parents look out for the other kids as well. We also do things like go on trips together, and host all kinds of activities for everyone to participate in.

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Just recently, a famous flower designer taught a series of flower arranging classes that ended with afternoon tea. I would love to attend these kinds of classes, but I'm never free enough to do so on a regular basis -- or even on any basis at all.

We also have wine and cheese nights, barbecue nights, and a host of other things.


This is the second time we've organized a grand Christmas party. Last year, I was very involved in the party as my good friend was the party chairperson.

But this year, as I've been away for much of the last three months and in South Africa for the last two weeks, I was happy to sit this one out as a regular guest and just enjoy the party.

It was an open bar all night.
But tonight, I stuck to water and Coke Zero with lots of ice.

And enjoy, I certainly did. I was working on my Africa stories this afternoon, so I purposely skipped the cocktails and just joined the dinner.

When I arrived for the dinner, there were lots of people I hadn't seen in a while and it was free seating at the tables.

I was very glad to sit with two couples who also happen to be my closest friends in the neighborhood. We're all terribly busy so it was a good way to catch up and celebrate an early Christmas -- or at least to jumpstart the round of celebrations.

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We were also discussing love, as one of the couples is getting married soon, and they'd effortlessly beat all the odds to be happily together, via a series of uncanny coincidences. My friend and I, the two girls at our end of the table, listened with rapt interest as the couple re-told their story, as the odds had really been against them.

The woman said: "An old lady had told me a long time ago: 'What's for you will not go by you.' I really believe that, so there's no need to push or force anything. If it's meant to be, it'll happen."


After dinner, the dancing began. It started with 60s music and the band worked its way up to the 80s and then said goodbye for the night. Then a DJ took over and started spinning songs from places from the past like Stargazer and Faces, and this certainly got everyone on the dance floor.

I love swing and I think I danced nonstop for at least 90 minutes, as I hadn't done the swing in over a year. It was incredibly fun. When I finally got back to my table, the neighbors clapped as I'd probably been the one longest on the dance floor.

Someone said: "You must've burned at least a thousand calories." I certainly hoped so as I'd so enjoyed the food today.

There had been about 250 people, perhaps, and we'd had great angus roast beef from Bacchus, very delicious lechon, all kinds of roasts, and a long buffet line filled with wonderful dishes. I'd heaped my plate and had two rounds of dessert, so dancing was definitely a fun way to burn dinner.

Another person said: "You danced so long, but you still look so refreshed." Right on, on that one. This weekend has been slightly stressful, but tonight I felt everything melt away.

It was past midnight when I left, and still the hardiest stalwarts were seated around a table, talking, laughing and, yes, planning a monthly dance class for the neighborhood. But before I left, I said: "Count me in on that one."

And just like that, another interesting and busy day ended in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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