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Hot showers

There will be no chicken valenciana that my late aunt would cook up on special occasions. No caldereta, too, because my aunt isn’t that crazy about beef.

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I boiled water for my morning bath yesterday. I am not one to indulge in hot baths, except maybe when I am billeted at a hotel. I have always looked forward to cold showers to wake me up or cool me down on a hot day. That was until a few years ago when my body demanded hot showers on cool mornings.

Friday night’s news said the temperature that morning fell down to 22 degrees Celsius, the first time since it declared amihan season. My aunt complained of her knees because she was caught unaware of the cold. She had her trusty airline blanket with her, the kind of covering you steal from airplanes. I remember reaching out for a blanket because it was a chilly morning. The air-con was off, so was the electric fan. And the windows were shut, too. That 22 degrees was a sign that the Yuletide holiday is near.

Who doesn’t look forward to Christmas and New Year’s Day? And yes, chilly mornings?

I asked my aunt if she intended to hear simbang gabi on the telly because I would have to turn it on for her. I said “hear” because my aunt’s vision has gone dimmer through the years. And since we got a Smart TV last year, she could never figure out how to turn it on and find a channel. If she had her way, she’d prefer her old TV, the boob tube kind, with the aerial antenna, because she can feel her way with that set-up.

Christmas will be different for us this year. There’s just the two of us at home, and the nine dogs, of course. I was asking her what I should prepare for Christmas Day. It was a challenge thinking of a festive menu for two. There will be no chicken valenciana that my late aunt would cook up on special occasions. No caldereta, too, because my aunt isn’t that crazy about beef and I am avoiding red meat because of my diet. And how do you whip either a potato or fruit salad for two? It’s a good thing the convenience store around the block stocks up on a variety of macaroni salad; that will have to do.

We stopped taking out the decor to hang a few years ago. We’ve all agreed Christmas is just one day, and we didn’t have to bother with wreaths and garlands and fairy lights.

For now, the Christmas Noche Buena in our house will be observed with my limited menu of dishes: Spaghetti with my vegan tomato sauce, roast chicken, and my adobo. Everything else will have to be bought the day before or delivered.

And yes, lots of hot showers to ward of those cold mornings and nights.

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