A Childhood Branch

My shoulder is absolutely killing me today after a Sunday of hauling Christmas decorations up from the basement and decorating the apartment. I had to grin in amusement when I ran into my neighbour who was doing the exact same thing, and we agreed that this was our fitness hour. She had it worse than I did because she lives higher up, and the elevator is out of order. I was all set on ditching my usual artificial tree and go the full-on German way this year with a fresh tree but I decided to scrimp and put up my good old tree again, to have a longer period of fairy-tale atmosphere at home. Admittedly, a fresh tree has much more charm to it, especially with the aroma of pine pervading through the home, but then there is the hassle of disposing of it after the holidays, and somehow it is like throwing away the money invested in that tree. Besides, the sentimental part in me always surfaces during the Christmas season and since this was the last tree I shared with my parents, I wanted them present somehow.

Childhood branch
©FrogDiva Photography

I go through the motions of packing and unpacking the decorations each year but never tire of it. I am definitely not the type to decorate the house in the exact same predictable manner year in and year out, and challenge myself to come up with something different each year. One thing is for sure, I sorely missed Champagne while decorating since she always “helped” and “supervised” while jumping in and out of the boxes. Instead, I had two utterly bewildered senior citicats who had no clue what was going on. It’s not as if they haven’t been around me for Christmas before, but last year they were so distracted recovering that they didn’t really take any of the decorations seriously.

Re-arranging furniture and putting up seasonal decorations requires a serious plan of action. In the same manner that one does not simply walk into Mordor, I don’t just open the box and go with the flow. Being an engineer’s daughter, everything has to be calculated, especially when it comes to connecting the lights. Mommy and I always preferred to just hang everything where we jolly well felt like but Daddy wouldn’t allow us to do anything until he set up the lights first, and we had to admit, the effect was so much more polished and balanced. This is something I carry with me everywhere I go, and once the tree is up and the lights draped, I take a step back and wonder whether Daddy would approve or not.

During Christmas 2015 Mommy insisted that I decorate the tree with an entirely Filipiniana theme, using only the traditional capis (mother of pearl), having the foresight that I would not be spending many Christmases in the Philippines anymore. If you have Filipino decorations abroad you will always have a unique look to your tree and have a part of your homeland with you no matter what, and you can pass this on to your daughter. She was absolutely right, although I missed putting up the decorations she had sewn by hand ever since I was a child.

Mommy was never much of the arts and crafts person but when I was in Middle School she was drafted into a Mormon Ladies arts and crafts / sewing group. She learned all about patterns sewing on sequins, quilting and after a while, began to enjoy herself. The greater joy was to see her handiwork glittering on the tree and telling everyone she had made that! So I have hung on to these decorations fiercely and fought for their place on the tree. However, these quilted decorations, charming though they are, clash horribly with the capis stars and angels, and I wondered how to reconcile the two.

When I unpacked the tree, the assorted garlands tumbled out as well and then it struck me I could have a childhood garland on the side loaded with the quilted decorations and the tree could continue its elegant solo performance.


  1. Fond memories give us more strength
    I recall with joy the Christmas decorations at your home in Delhi which was a source of joy and inspiration for me

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