Miyerkules, Oktubre 26, 2005

The Star of Bethlehem and Other Christmas Wonders (Essay Series Part 3)

Christmas decorations are always fun. Seeing the flickering and dancing light of parols and Christmas lights as I walk down the street makes me feel like a child. Seeing how the Christmas lights outline the shape of a narra tree fools me into believing that the lights are actually part of the tree. Appreciating them is fun. But putting them up is also fun, in its own unique way.

My Dad takes Christmas decorations very seriously. He would always be the one who would check out the all the Christmas decorations as we drove by the streets of San Pablo. He would comment on how nice the parol that we saw in that house and how ingenious the use of Christmas lights was made to make the image of Christ in this house. And he’s the one whose driving too as he made those comments. I don’t know why he’s like that. Maybe because it’s one of those few times where he could unwind without any excuses.

Each year, we decorate the house from head to toe, from the gate, to the windows, to the gutters of the roof. It all started in 1997, we started to outline the windows, the edges of the walls, and the roof with lights. It really showed how big the house really was. Dad was quite happy and impressed, even though it cost us more on the electric bill. But what is a few thousand per month compared to having the brightest house in the street during those cold, windy nights?

The next year, Dad raised the ante when he installed a Pampangan parol. It was this massive, multi-colored paste-work that was taller than my thirteen year old sister, who was just seven then. We hung outside a window over looking the second floor terrace. And every time it was turned on, it was an instant disco floor on the second floor sala of the house. It was especially weird when watching MTV.

Then the house got renovated in 2001. It was a lightless Christmas for Dad. So instead of putting up a bigger and better lights show, he just focused on making a bigger and better house.

After the renovations were done, back were flickering Christmas lights that outlined our now even bigger house, which is now four floors compared to previous three. We even had our two new pseudo-pillars, these pillars in front of our house that looked like marble but are actually cement pillars wrapped with wallpaper that looked like marble, covered with lights We also hung the Pampangan parol (yes, it survives until now) on the new balcony on the third floor. Then Dad, envisioning how our house would look from the horizon, stood in the open air space of our fourth floor and felt something missing.

On the first night of the first Christmas season of our newly renovated home, Dad turned on his new addition, a star of Bethlehem on top of our house. It was an outline of a five-pointed star made of Christmas lights and wires. It was held up nearly 20 feet up in the sky by a pole. More lights came down the pole. It was an awesome sight. It could be seen from all over the barangay.

Putting up all those lights is like boasting our wealth and status. But Dad was never two faced. He knew he would attract hoards of aguinaldo seekers. And he would welcome, with all smiles and warmth, those who would pass by our house come Christmas Day. He would give aguinaldo to all those who came, attracted by the star of Bethlehem.

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