Since it’s January 6th, the holidays have officially ended. That’s what I have learned, now that I am married to a Filipina. Gee all these years as a Jew I assumed that Christmas ended on December 25th; now I know better. In the Philippines, Christmas season starts in September and ends on January 6th. So, tonight the decorations and tree can officially be placed away – for at least a few months.
So, let’s review how Janet’s 2nd Christmas in the United States went. As I mentioned before she was definitely home sick and one of the things we decided to do was host a Christmas Eve party for about a dozen of our friends. Now, I’ll be frank and say I am not a great host. You’d think after a couple marriages (OK, three) I would be well familiar with how to host parties, but in the end I do what most husbands do – whatever she wants.
What to serve? It took several conversations to explain to Janet that a pot luck was traditional here, even for a Christmas party. In the Philippines by definition the person hosting the party provides everything; the guests simply arrive hungry and thirsty and with bags or pockets to carry the excess food. Of course we did provide plenty of food, beer, soda, etc. But everyone kicked in with an eclectic mix of Filipino and American food.
As at all Fil-Am parties, the girls congregated in our dining room and the guys separated into the living room; and each group chika chikaed (gossiped) about the other. The guys like me, married for a relatively short period of time, shook their heads at the latest escapades of their Gracie Allen-like wives (for those old enough to remember Gracie; for you youngsters – look her up), while the more seasoned husbands wryly listened, chuckled with fake wisdom, and commented that we still didn’t know squat about Filipinas.
I used to wonder what the girls talked about and would ask Janet after such parties, but no longer. A good friend of mine, married to a Pinay for about ten years said his strategy was not to learn too much Visayan; he thinks he’s better off not knowing what the girls are saying. Most of what I’m told from the chika chika sessions doesn’t make sense to me and honestly I no longer want to know. I guess I am learning. I suspect they are not extolling the guaponess of their husbands.
The party over and the guests gone, midnight arrived. It didn’t take much arm twisting for Janet and I to convince each other that it was OK to open our presents. I am an old fart in the present buying department. I learned from kids and exes that asking in advance what they would like guarantees general happiness, if not a whole hell of a lot of surprise. Thus Janet got many of the items on her list, as well as one item not on her list but strongly hinted at (see picture above). I received the watch which I mentioned in a previous blog posting.
I am an off and on watch collector and while this watch was not expensive it was very cool looking and I was really looking forward to owning it. More importantly was the fact that Janet was excited to give me something I really wanted. It had been so long since I’ve received a gift that I really wanted that I felt like a kid at Christmas.
I made it clear that the watch should be my present for Christmas, Hanukkah and my birthday in January. But immediately after Christmas Janet started hinting that she wanted to get me something for my birthday. I resisted for awhile, reminder her yet again that as an old, rich kano I needed nothing, but she reminded me that I did need some new pants or jeans and I reluctantly agreed that I could use a new pair.
Unfortunately, like my taste in watches, my taste in clothes is eclectic and unfortunately not cheap. Pants sourced at Walmart are not normally acceptable to me, both from a style standpoint and the fact that in order to get them you actually have to go to Walmart, which I no longer wish to do.
As an aside I should say that when Janet arrived in the US she was curious about the Walmart phenomena she had heard about. So one day, close to Christmas of 2013 we went to the closest Walmart. As expected it was a zoo. Janet was appalled at the sight of the carts filled with massive qualities of food, beverages, and toys, generally pushed by massive Americans. But what most stunned her was the smell. Let’s just say that some of the shoppers were less than hygienic. BTW, if you the reader are a Walmart shopper, I am sure this description does not describe you.
But back to my birthday present. We hit the mall this past weekend and fortunately there are still tons of after holiday sales. So we shopped at a store more appropriate to my elderly outdoorsman style (Eddie Bauer). Janet was again appalled – this time by the prices. But fortunately there were big discounts and I went away with a nice pair of pants and a couple pairs of socks for a reasonable price. What was so different was how excited Janet was to see me in my new pants. She insisted on going with me in the dressing room to try them on, insisted on grabbing my loboot while in there, and then insisted that I wear the pants the next day. She bragged to friends about how good I looked in the pants she had purchased and I got a kick out of seeing her excitement. And she was right; I did look good in my new Eddie Bauer pants, almost good enough to climb a mountain or go hiking, or at least walk around the campus at work.
So as usual I started out trying to find a way to make Christmas a happier time for Janet and she made is a much happier time for me!