Way Back in Another Lifetime

October 31, 2009

Maligayang Pasko! Ok, I won’t make you guess. It means “Merry Christmas” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. It’s okay for me to say it now, because over there, the decorations started going up in September. All of the “…ber” months are considered fair game for celebrating Christmas. They don’t have other  big things in the way, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. All Saints (Nov. 1) is a holiday, but after families go to the cemetery to honor the deceased, the party is over.

 I can still see the palm trees with their trunks laced in tiny white lights. Some creative people outlined the leaves, too. In one park near where I lived for a short time, I could look out my second-story window and see a huge tree made entirely of colored lights. In the daytime, it looked like a wire tepee. Every house has at least one  parol, a multi-faceted, three-dimensional lighted star, unique (as far as I know) to the Filipino community. The fancy ones were made of capis shells, cheaper ones of colored plastic.  Christmas music sings from passing jeepney, in even the smallest corner food stand, throughout every shopping mall. And – appropriately – the Blessed Virgin and her family stand without shame or question wherever people want to put them. After all, it is her son’s birthday!

I miss it sometimes. That was my tradition for about ten years. I didn’t really have a Christmas tradition in the U.S. Coming back here for the holidays always depressed me. Bouncing between my divorced parents and my precious sister and her  beautiful family, I always felt like a visitor (no matter how hard they tried). Even now, married to a wonderful husband, I’m still trying to figure out what our traditions are (he’s always happy with whatever I request – bless him!). Every year, I threaten to run off – with Gary in tow –  to somewhere warm and stay until spring. Maybe I miss the lighted palm trees…

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