Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? In the Philippines where the Christmas season starts on the first of September, mall displays build up the Christmas fever. TV shows and radio stations start their countdown to Christmas day. Soon after, streets and parks take on a glittery landscape with trees and buildings bedecked with Christmas lights. People start buying decors and houses brighten up with Christmas lights and lanterns.
By November, after Undas (All Saints’ Day), preparations would pick up. Christmas is now undeniably around the corner. We decorate our houses, make lists for gifts, and we start spending more. Most everything would be on the uptrend – business profits, income owing to bonuses, OFW remittances, hotel occupancy, flight bookings, etc. Most people are also in high spirits, more giving, more forgiving. But some who have just lost loved ones by whatever circumstance, or have been through tough times recently might want quiet time, and opt to skip the revelry. We should respect that.
For many Filipino families likes ours, Christmas without that symbolic faux pine tree just doesn’t feel complete. I remember as a child I would go to great lengths to put up a Christmas tree from out of dried twigs or branches, assembled in a can wrapped in nice paper and containing big rocks to hold the weight. At the time, my family was living in a small apartment sitting out-of-place in an “exclusive” subdivision in Quezon City. I had a playmate who had this huge Christmas tree with pretty decors. I wanted my own, too. My mother would buy multi-colored Christmas lights and small balls in assorted colors, some shaped into apples. We would then have our own improvised but charming Christmas tree every year. There was also always that “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” banner that we would post on our wall, and that glittery long garland (usually in red, green, and silver) which we would shape into a star and thumb-tuck to a wooden wall (Hope you can picture what I mean.). Christmas trees I recall were expensive back in the 80s, only the rich could afford them. Or maybe that was just how it felt at the time; I was around nine years old, and my youngest sister had just arrived – to enjoy the twinkling lights. J
Fast forward to 29 years later, I now have this Christmas tree which I’ve enjoyed putting up with the help of my little girl. Actually, this tree is now eight years old. I just keep buying additional decors every year to spruce it up. This year, I am very happy with the additional elves, snowmen, and Santas, which I scored from a Uratex factory outlet very cheaply. J
I love love love our Christmas tree, and everything that it symbolizes for me, and the Christmases they remind me of.