It’s Christmas time – not in the Philippines but here in the good old USA. (Ok it’s Xmas time in the Philippines too but that’s not my point.) This is Janet’s 2nd Christmas season here in foreigner land and our 3rd Christmas together as a couple. I know she misses what she considers to be a true Filipino Christmas; one that starts back in September and continues unabated for months and months and doesn’t end until New Years Day. Here she is surprised to see people putting up trees just a few days before the event.
And when I explained to her that I used to wrap presents the night before Christmas, so that in the morning they would appear under the tree to excite my children, she doesn’t completely understand. Our tree’s been up for weeks and that was too late for Janet: I was the Scrooge who insisted it shouldn’t go up until after Thanksgiving. And our presents appear under the tree the moment they enter the house; wrapping them has priority over everything else. It’s as if it doesn’t count if they are not wrapped immediately and placed under the tree. When new presents are placed, Janet reorganizes the entire layout of the presents; like a chef who cares more even about presentation than what’s being served. After which pictures are taken. When I suggest that pictures should be taken only after all the packages are under the tree, Janet gives me “the look.”
Our house has been decorated like it has never been decorated before. Multiple trips have been made to the Dollar Store, since while Janet likes her bright decorations, she is nothing if not practical. And once again, each time a round of pictures is taken and posted to that world wide communal favorite – Facebook, so that friends from all over the world can ooo and aahh, impressed that the kano (Jewish kano, to boot) supports a proper Christmas.
Yet I knew all this effort wasn’t quite enough and so when friends of ours proposed that we get together on Xmas Eve, I suggested our house to host the shindig. The 4 of us have become 10 or is it 12 or 15; we will find out tonight. I was instructed to buy lots of pork, which I did; and then instructed to get more still – which I also did.
It still strikes Janet as odd and almost offensive that we are doing this event pot luck style. In the Philippines, if you invite people over for a party, you supply everything; they only supply empty stomaches and parched throats. But here, the first thing that people ask is what can they bring. And so we will have ribs and chicken and pulled pork and lumpia and salads and desserts and wine and beer and booze. We might as well be feeding the whole barangay, except that in the U.S. the neighbors don’t just show up. I am getting so used to the Filipino way I kind of wish that they would.
There is one other struggle for Janet when it comes to Christmas; what to get Dave. I am old and a “rich kano” and so really have everything I need. Clothes? Over the years I have accumulated more than I can generally wear. Household crap? Like most Americans I have too much. Tools? Again too many and I spent last year downsizing my tool collection.
Also, I really don’t want Janet to spend much of her hard earned money, obtained in modest sums by working much harder than I do, on her husband who doesn’t need anything for Christmas other than her.
However, I do have a long time weakness – watches. After Janet asked me innumerable times what I wanted for Xmas, I finally mentioned that a particular company was having a great sale. Janet jumped at the chance to get me something I truly wanted. We went to the company’s website, she helped me choose the color of the watch and the next thing I knew it was here, wrapped and under the tree. It’s the first time in many years that I am truly excited about receiving something for Christmas. But that’s Janet; she really is excited to make me happy for Christmas, even though as a Jew I will never completely be in tune with the celebration.
Despite that, I am trying my best. Tonight we will have our friends over, stuff ourselves and get properly merry, aka drunk. And tomorrow my kids will come over and we will all happily open the presents.
And shortly thereafter I will no doubt post a pic of me proudly wearing my new watch, not because it’s expensive, not because it’s a brand name; but because my wonderful wife got it for me! And also, because it’s gonna look cool as shit!
Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks so much for supporting us and supporting this blog! It’s been a blast. See you all soon, one place or another.