"If you come push through with your plans, this will be the first time ever the Salvador siblings will be split in half this Christmas season," sister Malu said over the phone.

Viola! I did hop on that plane and jetted to Uncle Sam's land for another shot at winter and the holidays that come along with it- the natal day, Thanksgiving and the yuletide celebrations.

I never did like the cold but the opportunity just opened up to see places that are on the bucket list so I went anyway. I have to say my friend is right, best to see and tour this new place in the company of fellow first timers. The thought of spending extra on coats and warmers that's not going to be worn again is already sending shivers along my spine----and my wallet as well. Ha-hay winter.

There was no other choice but keep myself warm. Coat shopping it is or "chill out" in the biting cold while chatting with Miss Hypothermia over a frozen Margarita on a windy16*F but feels like -2*F night on the al fresco section of a local bar in Manhattan.

Of course you can always borrow your winter gear. But this is a clear case of bundling up in style with a coat of your choice or be Ugly Betty in an ill-fitting borrowed jacket. The former would always win. Never on your dead body should you be caught un-chic in this land more especially NYC where fashion and vanity reign supreme. Like they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do and in this case feel New York and be one with the fashion capital.

Now that I have my warmers of choice, it is time to enjoy the first time visit in this land I have been so longing to see since Cats showed on Broadway. Even better get to spend my first Noel in the ten gallon hat state- or is it the lone star?

Nothing ever beats spending the holidays with your loved ones and your family. It didn't matter that my brother and his family and me tagging along hopped on in their car and drove a good seventeen hour trip from Tucson, Arizona to Frisco, Texas to get the other half of the Salvador siblings together on Christmas day. It was a gazillion percent worth it. Nothing else mattered than getting together on a foreign land where Christmas is not a fabulous as the way Pinoys celebrate it.

It is true that this day is for kids when you feel them happily anticipating Santa's visit and jumps out of bed on Christmas day and check what the old man left them in their stockings. See the faces light up that can brighten up a whole city block.

But Pinoys, big and small, are the same when they get together. It's definitely a fiesta.

SO I didn't feel too far from home with the company I was in on this holiday season.

My sister, brother, their families, their extended families of friends

whom they went to college with and found all of them living in the same village away from home. Amazing.

The buffet spread was overflowing, so where the drinks. I have never seen so much gifts in my life spread under and around (and more) a single Christmas tree. It was like Santa's workshop. Cameras were working overtime, chatting, singing karaoke, and everyone eagerly awaiting the clock to strike twelve.

And so it did. Hugs, kisses, greetings, well-wishes and gifts were exchanged. It was a celebration all in Pinoy style. Plus, it's strictly a none nose bleeding at this party.

There was so much love among these group of friends whom they call family. It gives me pride and joy that my siblings and their friends are quite successful where they have settled in and keep their bonds strong, their Filipino traits intact and taught by example to their kids.

Christmas morning came and more gifts for the kids and yes, the adults too. Santa was generous enough to extend his love even to us grown up kids.

And some of the best gifts just can't be wrapped. The bright, sunny and glorious Texas Christmas day came with one more exciting present for everyone. Outdoors, everything seemed to be brighter than it usually is. Everything was covered with snow- it was a white Christmas! An incident Texas has never seen in the last half century, I heard.

What else is there to do but make a snow angel, prance and play on the snow. This was not the first snow angel I made but it certainly is the first Christmas snow angel for me.

Now that I have experienced it, I can stop dreaming of a white Christmas.