The USNS Observation Island had just sailed from Pearl Harbor Hawaii in November 1997 after sitting in port spending two months in Honolulu. (That’s why I never quit that job) But as with all things it was time to earn our pay so we set sail for the coast of northern Russia to sit off the coast of Kamchatka for a few months, why sit there? I’m not allowed to say (That’s what the Mr. Air Force man told us) But if you look at the picture of the ship I think you’ll figure it out.
Charlie our Chief Stewart and I were having a cocktail in my stateroom (This was a civilian crew) when he was informed to go and see the Chief Engineer. “Paul the clown wants to put up a Christmas tree in the Wardroom (Officers Mess)! He shouted. Being helpful I told him; I have all that crap in my forward storeroom. But it was not his job, but the Chief insisted and Charlie paid his men (All 18 of them) three hours overtime to decorate the tree. Two months after Christmas we were pulling into Dutch Harbor Unalaska to resupply and now the Chief feels it’s time that the tree should come down. Charlie and I set aside out Boat Drinks, went to the wardroom, picked up the tree and out the Water Tight Door to the fantail and set it afloat. (Yes we unplugged it first) And that my friend, since my childhood, was my involvement in anything pertaining to Christmas decorating.
Then I came home to the Philippines to live full time, yes all year round, and every time after All Souls Day, on November 1st the getting ready for Christmas frenzy starts. Out of a dedicated stowage area, came boxes and more boxes of Christmas stuff. Paul stealthily slips away not to be seen for a few days.
Mayang announces; “Honey Ko, we need more Christmas decorations!” May I point something out to our kind readers on LiP? No Christmas decoration in the decades that I’ve lived here has ever been thrown away and every year new ones have been added. How in the name of all the saints could we possibly need more? So it was deemed by Commander Wife that more there will be! With my mouth shut and my teeth clenched it’s off to the mall we go. Yes I could buy it from the Muslim vendors in the market whom, albeit don’t celebrate the day, but seem to have no trouble making a profit off of it. Good for them, after 1,400 years they are evolving. But I prefer to buy stuff that promises not to short circuit and burn down our house. Well at least I try.
The center piece of her entire display, Santa on his Sleigh with Reindeer all made with flashing LED lights had failed to spark off, it’s broken, malfunctioning, and or kaput! I remember buying it 8 or 9 years ago and it was not cheap. So I resigned myself to the fact that I would be purchasing a new one. Then like a ray of hope, more like manna from heaven, Mayang turns to me and said; “Honey Ko, I know a man who can repair this.” What am I hearing? In her Roll-A-Dex she has a Christmas Decoration repair “GUY”? That is truly a miracle on Ilang-Ilang Street. Yes, Mahal I’ll take you and the LED Santa there.
The schedule is set the work force assembled and each task has been promulgated, every decoration and light has been tested, all is ready to go. But I’m the first to go; I mean I am hiding like I’m Saddam Hussein in his hidey hole in Iraq after the fall of Bagdad. Even the US Army won’t find me. I’ll show up to compliment Mayang and the troops when the switch gets thrown for that first time. I started thinking about that Christmas Movie “Deck the Halls” I really needed another cocktail. But KA-Pow, the electric meter surged, the purok dimmed for a few seconds and the International Space Station sent congratulations to my wife, through NASA.
Another Christmas Season has kicked off; my power bill will jump from PHP 9,000.00 per month to PHP 13,000.00, the neighbors will gather in the street in front of the house and stare in wide eyed wonderment, All in all I’ll moan and be a curmudgeon and then smile and say to Mayang; “Great display Mahal, you out did yourself proud again.” And I think to myself, okay, “Let there be light Bataan!”