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I’m fortunate to have extended family within driving distance. And while I don’t get to visit as often as I like, it’s a real treat when I do make the two-hour trek to see them. Recently (just last night, in fact), my nephew practiced a speech he was to give to his class. 20141216_202241

The topic was Christmas and some of the cultural differences between his Philippine heritage as compared to that in the United States. It was adorable (because he is, after all, seven!), and it reminded me so much the traditions I’d grown up with. For instance, the typical Barong (which he was kind enough to model for me – isn’t he cute?) is worn by males during special occasions. There are also different games played, and definitely different food that graces a traditional Filipino table during the holidays (a roasted pig, for instance, complete with an apple in its mouth). Yum!

There were even visual aids used, like the FILIPINO FRIENDS book he brought with him (displayed here by his sister). And the part I’m most proud about? This little guy was thoroughly comfortable standing in front of a room full of people and giving his speech! How many adults can say that?

Even as a seven-year-old, he reminded me about the wide range of experiences (a.k.a. back story) that we all carry with us as we travel on this road called “life.” It’s these same experiences that guide us as we make choices and deal with what comes our way. It’s through testing our experiences that we grow. At least, I think so!

And as I plot my next book, remembering his speech helped emphasize the importance of my characters’ back stories. Apple, anyone?

Happy Travel Bug Tuesday,