If all had gone as planned, this would not be the piece you are reading today. I had my mind set on putting out my yearly Christmas food list and I was, in fact, already halfway done. But then that thing at The Peninsula Manila happened and the two days that I thought I had freetime to work on it had to be spent tying the loose ends of work that had to be dropped at a moment’s notice when the curfew was imposed.
I was taping at the ABC 5 studio in Novaliches when it was announced that, whether we were done or not, we all had to stop working to make it home before midnight, so extra workdays were naturally in order.
All that behind us now, the busy-ness of the season continues. Richard and I had neither the desire nor the energy to put up the huge tree we’ve had since our first Christmas as husband and wife. It’s just so huge and with all the tragic stories of houses burning down together from overheating Christmas lights we thought it was time we kept things simple — just touches of Christmas cheer as opposed to glittery, shimmery Christmas everything everywhere.
We found gorgeous Christmas trees at Dimensione in Rockwell, in bright crayon colors, totally not traditional, but absolutely fun and cheerful. We got three in different colors — lime, turquoise and orange — which we put side by side along one wall. We bought LED lights and used most of the old décor we had accumulated through the years. The new trees are much smaller than our one big tree, and much slimmer, too. I wanted the magenta but it would not go with the color scheme of our house. The black was cute, too (yes, there is a black Christmas tree!) and I know it would look great with hot pink Christmas décor but it was just too unconventional, I know I would get tired having to answer why there even is a black Christmas tree in the house.
Over at one side, beside the lime green tree, is a wooden sculpture that Richard has had forever — of a woman’s torso with one breast exposed. For Christmas, that’s where Juliana’s stocking is draped. Inside it she leaves little notes for Santa, and one time I even saw Krispy Kreme donuts inside Ziploc bags hanging on one of the trees. “For Santa,” she whispers to us.
Tomorrow, she says, she will leave out a little bottle of milk for him. Once she asked if Santa was diabetic like her Yaya Lita, with all the sweets he eats from every household he visits. She says Yaya Lita does not have as much access to cookies and cake as Santa does and yet she is diabetic, how much more Santa? I told her Santa is beyond diabetes and he needs all that sugar to keep him going anyway. She seemed to agree with that.
So there I was, hopping between the Christmas decorations and work and the first of the many December commitments I had to fulfill, and the Christmas food list keeps running around my mind. I’m thinking I really do have to put it out today so there is ample time for whoever comes across it to call up the merchants and place their orders, etc. I tell myself I can do it after dinner at La Maison in the newly-opened Greenbelt 5 but then I come home and my daughter tells me that they have a bazaar in school the following day and that she has to sell something homemade and handmade. She wanted to make necklaces and bracelets from her box of beads but it would take too much time. She wanted to bake cookies and cake in Christmas shapes but our ingredients were not complete and it was too late in the night.
We finally settled on bookmarks made out of her drawings, which I cut and laid out against craft paper in black and brights. Together we laminated them and punched holes in the top middle, looping through them raffia in muted colors leftover from last Christmas. I think they came out very pretty and I was mighty proud of her handiwork. I became sentimental, too, and did not really want to part with them but she said she could always make me new ones, so I settled for taking a picture of them all grouped together on my desk.
Someday, a long, long time from now, I know I will look at that picture and remember how my seven-year-old daughter made each one of them one late night in December for her first bazaar in school. I will remember how her eyes shone with excitement and anticipation and how her mother’s heart rejoiced in her simple joy. I will remember how she says she felt so grown up staying past her schoolday bedtime because she “had work to do.” When it was all done, we drank chocolate milk together and it was then that she decided she did not have enough stuff to sell at the bazaar. The 11 bookmarks we made would not be enough, she was sure.
I remembered the box of stones we decorated when she was three years old and I asked her if she was willing to part with them. They make very pretty paperweights, crude but lovely nonetheless. Her eyes shone bright as she told me the very thing I always forget when I get all sentimental: “We can make new ones together mommy.”
Someday soon we shall make new stones, new bookmarks, and alongside them, new memories.
I have a deadline to beat, so I guess my Christmas food list will have to wait till next Sunday. By then there will still be plenty of time to place orders. I’m sure you will be getting together with friends and family over the next few weeks, so do try La Maison at Greenbelt 5. They have great food at great prices with very generous servings. It’s perfect for big groups. The Dover sole and paradise fish are fresh and delicious, the barkada ribs is tender and tasty, and they have the yummiest salad with fresh ripe mango, grape and smoked salmon. They also have a branch at TriNoma.
Till next Sunday…I promise the Christmas food list will be worth the wait.