Weekly Image Of Life: A Christmas Surprise

The Gift Of Christmas

Christmas is my favorite of all holidays. There is something magical about this event that allows me to go back in time and recapture my happiest childhood memories.

Island Traveler 2012

When I was a kid, I remember Christmas day as a huge event where my family gather at my grandma’s house and together with our other cousins we would exchange gifts, play games, sing, dance, share stories and jokes, feast on delicious foods including a delicacy called LechonIt was a time of sharing generously and making an extra mile to make our love ones happy. When it was time to go home, each family carries a box full of presents and loads of wonderful memories.

Island Traveler 2012

Christmas then was also about remembering the precious gift of one’s faith as well as valuing traditions. Every Christmas eve, my parents would take me and my siblings to our town’s church to celebrate the birthday of Christ. I remember how excited we were lining up after the mass so we can kiss the blessed statue of the newborn Jesus laying on the manger. This was the Christmas I knew.

Island Traveler 2012

People do change. Nowadays creating fun-filled, beautiful, lasting memories and making my family happy excites me more than receiving presents. To give and seeing that bright sparkle in their eyes as they open and experience their Christmas surprise gives me more joy more than anything else.

Island Traveler

Last Christmas my wife asked me, “What gift do you want?” My answer was, “Nothing material. I have everything I could ever want.” She asked me again, “Seriously, what do you want.” With a huge grin, I told her, “Can I have a lifetime of happiness.” While laughing she said, “He, he, he.” Then I laughed with her too.


Today, I share with you a trip we made last December first at Galveston Island as part of my “lifetime of happiness” wish list. It is my gift to all of you for the blogger friendship you gave me since “This Man’s Journey” made its first baby steps. It may not be much but I hope it creates an exciting Christmas surprise that will bring a smile to your heart during this magical season of joy and new beginnings.

Island Traveler

Revisiting Dickens On The Strand

Every year, Galveston Island host the amazing Dickens On The Strand where they relive the Victorian London holiday of Charles Dickens. It is a magical way for people to experience the simple yet meaningful Christmas of the past.

Island Traveler 2012

We reached the seawall around noon and decided to have a quick brunch at McDonald’s. My son had fish sandwich and we all shared the french fries. I was sipping my coffee when I read on the cup the words “Unwrapping the joy.” I told myself, “I can’t wait to unwrap the joy of the day.”

Island Traveler 2012

So many interesting characters that day. My son who is into Army stuff got excited when he saw these soldiers marching down the street.

Island Traveler 2012

One thing that stands out was the overflowing  of amazing talents of all ages. Musicians, singers, dancers, actors, jugglers, comedians were just a few of the many entertainers that day.

Island Traveler 2012

Christmas is not complete without Christmas Carols. So many beautiful voices that day blending in perfect harmony.

Island Traveler 2012

As I listened to these young carolers sing, I remembered how me, my sisters and cousins would go around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols using flattened soda metal caps as improvised tambourines. I remembered too how happy we were of the few pesos we earned from our caroling. A few pesos we saved so we can buy our simple dream Christmas toys.

Island Traveler 2012

Finally, the parade was about to start. It was hard to find a spot with the best view. My son got lucky. He was small enough to squeeze in the front row.

Island Traveler 2012

Meet the Queen. She waved her hand to the crowd’s delight.

She was then followed by the town’s people. Their costumes were really colorful but what made them shine were their cheerful and generous smiles. This lady was so believable when she said, “Sir, can you spare me a dollar?” I whispered to my wife, “Do you have a dollar?”

Island Traveler

Island Traveler 2012

Island Traveler 2012

The stirring sound of the bagpipes filled the air. For a moment, the crowd was quiet, just listening to the soul of the music.

Island Traveler

Island Traveler 2012

Snowflakes were flying everywhere.  It doesn’t normally snow in Texas but that day a Winter surprise happened. It may had been a make-believe snow but it captured the magic of this wonderful season.

Island Traveler 2012

Island Traveler 2012

Island Traveler 2012

Island Traveler

One of the coolest groups were the Steampunks. It was like watching a live Sci-fi show. Their costumes were totally awesome!

Island Traveler 2012

Island Traveler 2012

Meet Mr. Balloon Man. Very creative don’t you think?

Island Traveler

It was unusually hot that day. We decided to cool down inside the Tremont House. As we sipped our brewed coffee, my wife said, “Love their interior designs. It’ll be cool to stay here in the future.” I told myself, “That’ll be an exciting surprise.”


My son sat close to the stage as we watched the costume contest.


Island Traveler

island traveler

This was my favorite for the “Family” category. I believed they won. Beautiful family that truly embraced the festive spirit of the occasion.

Time flies when you are having a fun time. Before we knew it was getting dark. On our way out, I saw this family. The elder brother and his sister were playing the violin as they walked towards the exit. Looking at them, I am once again reminded that Christmas is about being around my family. Family that I love. Family that I will ever need. Family that will bring me wonderful surprises even on ordinary days.

island traveler

Christmas surprise comes in various packages. Some are small. Others big and extravagant. Some are wrapped while others are just as beautiful the way they are. Some can be visually seen and touch while others only felt by the heart. Regardless of how they are presented to us what matters is the intention and meaning we put in all of them.

Thank you for sharing your day with me. I wish for everyone a Christmas full of surprises and bountiful blessings.

What’s that Christmas surprise that takes you back to your happiest childhood memory. What surprise do you wish to receive this Christmas?


Today, discover the inspiring world of these blogger friends. Their zest for life, their families, their environment and most of all their faith are priceless treasures that will bring a smile to your day.

Patricia of  http://lifeofaministermom.com/2012/12/05/weekly-image-of-life-happy-holidays-jesus-is-the-reason/

Imelda of  http://mywordwall.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/for-the-great-feast/

Francine of  http://francineinretirement.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/weekly-image-of-life-happy-holidays/

Jenn of  http://the-serenity-space.com/2012/12/07/weekly-image-of-life-happy-holidays/

Alexandria of  http://simplysage.org/2012/11/25/christmas-gift-suggestions-2/

Ray of  http://transientreflections.com/2012/12/08/really-needs-to-be-rekindled-in-our-hearts/

Anne of  http://christmasblessings.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/share-with-the-children/


Jean of  http://santasreindeer.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/welcome/

The Guat of  http://thewishfactor.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/weekly-image-of-life-happy-holidays/

For those who wish to join in this week’s challenge, here’s a link and the widget. Have a great time making wonderful memories.


Images taken using an iPhone 4 camera with Camera + App and  Nikon 1 J1. My friends, have fun discovering and creating the most beautiful images everyday. They are a part of the unforgettable memories you make in this lifetime.

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About Island Traveler

A devoted husband and father who tries to make a positive difference in the lives of his family and friends. A person who finds inspiration and strength on those he loves and who loved him in all aspects of his life.
This entry was posted in 31 Days Of Christmas, Events, family, Life, photography, Post A Week, Weekly Image Of Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Weekly Image Of Life: A Christmas Surprise

  1. Sheila says:

    What a beautiful memory to share with your family at Christmas and I’m glad you enjoyed my granddaughter’s story. She truly blessed me the year. May you and yours have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year . From Sheila’s Morning Pages from the http://www.cowpasturechronicles.com

    • Thanks Sheila for a beautiful sharing of generous thoughts. Happy memories brighten our days when we needed it them the most. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

      • Sheila says:

        You’re welcome. It was a pleasure after reading your post. I think our world be a better place if everyone spread more happy memories around. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well.

  2. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Absolutely fabulous post of the season!

  3. misswhiplash says:

    wonderful pictures, so colourful and exciting…thank you….and A Very Happy Christmas to you, Mrs IT and master IT

  4. kz says:

    just wonderful!! It’s Christmas already ^^ thanks for the reminder ^^

  5. bulldogsturf says:

    A wonderful post as usual… I have gone beyond the receiving of gifts and find it far more pleasurable giving… I agree with you, give me happiness and love from my loved ones, is a good enough gift for any occasion…

  6. Thank you for sharing that fabulous Galveston festival. I love anything Victorian at Christmas: it reminds me of my last house where I raised my kids, an 1898 Queen Anne styled monstrosity that leaked heat like a sieve, but wow– it was a magical place when done up for the holidays!!
    Great pictures all around! Definitely feel like I was there!

  7. barb19 says:

    I love the “snow” in Texas! Wonderful, wonderful photos. Peace and joy to you and your family over the holidays.

  8. this was a lovely gift–thank you –wishing you and yours the best of the season

  9. thanks for sharing some of your joyful memories. God Bless..Merry Christmas !

  10. cocomino says:

    What a fun day We also want to join it Thanks for sharing

  11. Still Times says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts and viewing the pictures to go with each story. Very nice and very well written. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together for people such as myself to enjoy.


  12. Do you remember Christmas Eve of 2004? It snowed in our area on the way to my mother’s house. It was a beautiful surprise as those white snowflakes came down all around in the dark of night!

    • I was still in California then. I move to Texas in 2006. But it did snow in Houston around 2008. It was beautiful. My son can’t remember the event but I hope to capture one in the future where he can no appreciate. Thanks.

  13. Seeing the world through your eyes and soul helps us to step our of our own sometimes calloused spirit and see with a fresh attitude!! Every post is filled with love for your family and for the world around you.
    I am so very thankful to peer over your shoulder and watch as you share your memory book of life!
    your friend from afar,

    • Thanks Z. My life is also full of aches and pain too, both body and heart but it’s moments like these that keeps me inspired to collect the good and forget the bad. And yes, gives me hope as well that one day, it’s all “happy day,” everyday. That’s my Christmas wish.

      • as you know, it’s those difficult times that help us grow as people. you have a beautiful family, a lot of integrity, and you also have a huge cheering section! even if you stumble, there are lots of people to help you find your footing again!

  14. Freedomborn says:

    Thank you island traveler, what a very kind and thoughtful friend you are , I so much appreciate this Christmas gift, it is not just a pingback to me but shows your heart of giving, now are you sure you don’t want some house guests for Christmas … well you did ask what I wanted :-)

    I loved being with you as you recaptured your happiest childhood memories and thank you for your photos, they are always so bright and colourful and have real life moments in them which you have captured.

    My favourite memory as a child besides finding Jesus Loved me and wanted my friendship, was going to my Dad’s work party, he was the Boss so I was treated like a Princess, which he often called me, so did Ron when we first met him, Hmmmm perhaps my Tara has slipped a bit by now.

    Much Love and Christmas blessings from both of us- Anne

    • It’s a joy to share your inspiring posts my friend. They are full of light, hope, courage and yes, faith. They remind me every time of the person I hope to be one day at a time. Thanks for sharing your past childhood Christmas story. Beautiful story indeed. Wishing you and Ron all God’s wonderful blessings.

  15. Balloon Man is very cool, but I love that gorgeous Christmas Tree Lady and the Santa is perfect. That looks like the best Christmas ever! More fun than any present, big or small. Thanks, IT. What a wonderful reminder of the joy of the season.

    • Thanks my friend. It was a beautiful Christmas treat that hardly cost me other than gas and snacks…oh, an entrance fee. Wishing you and your family all the joys and blessings of the Holidays.

  16. Gracie says:

    Beautiful post, filled with a colorful photos and a wonderfully written story. Thank you for sharing.

  17. adinparadise says:

    “A lifetime of happiness” sounds like the best gift anyone could wish for. What a beautiful post, illustrated with wonderful scenes of Christmas fun. I wish you and your family every blessing this holiday season. :)

  18. TBM says:

    Wonderful images. I wish you and your family a joyous holiday filled with love and laughter.

  19. restlessjo says:

    I think you have your lifetime of happiness, right there in your heart. Beautiful work! Christmas joy to you and yours.

    • Thanks Jo. That is my hope and dream. A daily dose of happiness. May not be all the time but having bits of it is worth every try. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  20. Jody says:

    Lovely! Dickens On The Strand has been on my wishlist for awhile now. These photos really bring the event to life!

  21. This holiday brings out the child in the child and the child in adults. That feeling and joy that you express spills over into all you reach. Thanks.

  22. Laurie says:

    A very fun collection of photos!

  23. bebs1 says:

    Looks like another memorable day in your household. I remember Christmas in the old days when I would just be happy with one tiny doll or my grandpa and/or my aunt would fill my one sock with the native orange and an apple and my eyes would lit up. It was more than enough. I didn’t crave for much, I was loved each day, each moment.

  24. What a wonderful collection of memories! The Gulf Coast is full of such rich local traditions which differ greatly from city to city. I enjoyed peeking in on Galveston’s festivities – thank you!

  25. What a delightful tradition! I had no idea this festival existed. Your photos really gave me a feeling of enjoying the activities for the day. I am looking forward to some undistracted family time over Christmas — as our kids get older, and increasingly move toward their independent lives, “quality” family time together is precious! ~ Kat

    • Thanks Kat. I agree, it is all about spending quality time and not quantity. I miss being around my parents but when I followed my dream, I had to leave. I thought I had enough Christmas memories but now I realized that there is never enough of such beautiful memories.

  26. Angelia Sims says:

    How fun!! Love all the costumes and the festivities. And snow! Wow. I will definitely have to check this event out one year. Precious memories and moments. Thank-you for sharing your wonderful surprise. :-)

  27. Thanks for sharing your colourful Christmas journey with us! I don’t ask for any gift either, the spirit of Christmas, the joy, the family gatherings… that’s what count the most :)

  28. Pingback: a weekly image of life: Christmas surprise | bob's wife

  29. hi IT! i finally was able to join your challenge this week … inspired by your beautiful post which touched my heart. thank you for sharing a part of you and your family as you write your encouraging moments of love and adventures together. may the good Lord continue to bless your journey with your loved ones and may the joy of Christmas bring you more blessings of beautiful moments beyond what you ever hope for. Happy Christmas!

    and here is my entry: http://alwaysbobswife.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/a-weekly-image-of-life-christmas-surprise/

    • Thank you my friend. Beautiful post you shared with us. One of my wishes is to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines one day. The last I had was 2002. It’s true what they say, “You don’t know what you are missing until it is no longer there.” Miss those wonderful Christmases.

  30. Amy says:

    Beautifully written, as always, IT! Thank you so much for sharing your sementa and precious memeries through out the year. “This Man’s Journey” did NOT make its first baby steps (that’s the only thing I disagree with you, ever…). It’s a gigantic step that bloggers like me will never achieve!
    Maybe, I will run into you in Galveston Island next year!

    • Hmm…I share those gigantic steps with blogger friends like you everyday. I won’t be here without you guys. You all inspired me to pursue my passions. You believe in me when I was not sure of what I am doing in this blogging world. Yes, perhaps we’ll cross paths in Galveston Island one day. That place is my escape from the craziness in this world. Ha, ha, ha. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  31. Happy Christmas!!!!!!!!! :D

  32. What a festive day! The greatest gift you give is the one you receive–time with your family, love shared, building memories. Thank you for sharing your joy with us.

  33. Pingback: With Each Changing Seasons | this man's journey

  34. Indira says:

    Very interesting post with beautiful pics. May Christmas bring lots of wonderful surprises and blessings for your family .

  35. Pingback: WEEKLY IMAGE OF LIFE: A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE « Francine In Retirement

  36. fgassette says:

    AHH! A wonderful Christmas memory. Here is mine: http://wp.me/p23TG1-1Pj


  37. Patti Kuche says:

    What a fun collection of photos and memories IT! Galveston looks to be such a fun place!

  38. eof737 says:

    Tons of great pictures form your trip… They did an amazing job to create some fantasy wonderful. Awesome! :-)

  39. Thanks. Yes, it was a mixture of fantasy and the dreams we hope to have this Christmas.

  40. Pingback: Weekly Image of Life: A Christmas Surprise « Life of a Minister Mom

  41. lifeofaministermom says:

    IT, I hope you realize that what you share with us with every single post is a delightful surprise waiting to be discovered! Sharing your thoughts and your family with us is no small gift, and I thank you for your heart and all that you do! I feel like I’m late with the challenge this week, but I hope you enjoy my Christmas surprise!

    • Thanks Patricia. You posts always gives joy, inspiration, of moments of love and faith that touches the heart in so many ways. I am late too in a lot of things. Last weekend, I lost energy and felt depressed as I watched in sadness the tragedy in Newtown. Merry Christmas and God bless.

  42. lifeofaministermom says:

    Ooops. This should be the correct link this time. :)

  43. dearrosie says:

    Great post IT. What a wonderful parade. Love it that they even made “snow” in Houston.
    My favorite picture is the woman sitting on the street car tracks dressed in a beautiful gold gown who is playing the violin and the people walk around her.

  44. That was one of my favorite too. Just enchanting! Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  45. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise | this man's journey

  46. Penny says:

    Thank you so much for this. As a native Texas who went to Galveston ( too many years ago) as a teenager and never back, I really loved seeing this. I had no idea! It’s on my list now. How wonderful. Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas to you too!

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