September 2009, when I walked into the SM Mall in San Fernando, Pampanga, I noticed that they were playing Christmas Music and the Christmas decorations were up. Since this was about the same time Christmas started when I lived in Puerto Rico, and I’d been coming to the Philippines since the late 60’s, I smiled and thought to myself; “Just the way it should be” As a kid I had to wait until after Thanksgiving Day to even think about Christmas and New Years. Who made up that dumb rule? A few days later I’m in downtown Olongapo City, and was happy to find the same Christmas spirit had also broken out.
With our two daughters all grown up, one married and the youngest working in Singapore (someday I’ll write and explain, how much money, her job cost me) Christmas causes me to miss the days when they were in school and I’d see them every day when I was home from sea, and after I retired.
Then there’s the last five years with my granddaughter here at the house during Christmas (she’s seven now, but the first two years, she had no idea what Christmas was all about) But OH! She does now! With her to spoil, Christmas has new meaning to me once more.
This November 2009, our ten year old artificial tree was expired, I learned from my wife, it is no longer good, and no longer works well, and a new one is required, as are all older decorations and lights. They worked so well last Holiday Season. Then I was dumb enough to ask the why, it was explained that you don’t put old stuff on a new tree. I should have known that! The tree was up and trimmed on 7 November. If it was a real tree, a fire would have broke out by Christmas Day. After looking at the pictures of the two trees in question, (2008-2009) as usual my wife was right, it does look better!
So it felt somewhat like Christmas this November, with the exception that the kids with the banging pots and pans have yet to appear. When I ask where they were, I was told that the Barangay Captain did not allow them to bang the pots until 2 weeks prior to Christmas. What a wonderful Scrooge he is. I can’t wait!
My granddaughter will soon provide me with her Santa wish list. She knows I have his e-mail address, and will ensure that he knows what to bring. My wife is a Santa for the rest of the family and has started her shopping already. Me, I give my eldest daughter my Visa card; send her to the mall to pick out my presents for my wife. I’ve known for years that her and our daughter talks about it before she leaves for the mall. But I did get away with it for a few years, maybe?
For years when I was sailing, I’d mail everything I had in my stateroom back to the home office stateside. Now I’d go shopping for the three ladies. If you walk into any Department store you will find young girls from the Philippines working there. I would go the manager, ask for help while shopping, I’d tell the young lady, I wanted the hottest new items that a teenage girl would want, Watches, Running Shoes, and perfume. I was never wrong, and my two girls thought I was the coolest old guy in the world. So their presents were all that I had in my luggage when I got home. Of course then I had to explain to Customs in the U.S. why my bag was empty.
Then a few days after Christmas will come, New Year’s Eve. This is the one night that I refuse to have a cocktail. For I must remain vigilant, with a fully charged water hose to extinguish the fire works that land on or near my house. And anyway who would want to consume cocktails with amateurs. That’s the night when people who can’t hold their liquor, decide to drink and act a fool. Hell I can do that on any Monday Afternoon.
Example; Last New Year’s Eve, I’m on my roof (also a patio) watching the pyrotechnics being fired off around the barangay. The empty lot next door is often used as a launching site, around Midnight this guy shows up with a two foot tall Roman candle. It was a little damp that night with a very misty rain. Three times he lit the fuse with a match, and three times it went out. I saw him scratch his head, and dash off, up the road. To quickly return with a very large umbrella and a Bic lighter. This was going to work this time. He bent over the candle, umbrella in place and lit the fuse that had shortened a bit from the other three attempts. Off it went like a Roman candle should, straight up in to the umbrella, setting it a Lite. Then came the part that put my sober self on the floor laughing, off he ran, full tilt up the street still carrying the burning umbrella. I assumed it was not his umbrella and he had to return it.
Please allow me wish you all and safe and wonderful Holiday Season, and remember its okay to say the word Christmas here in the Philippines, that’s another reason I choose to live here.