Packing Christmas

I am literally packing Christmas away in a suitcase.  A morning show host gave tips on packing ornaments properly, using labeled plastic boxes.  For years we have been using an old suitcase (from dad’s convention days) to store ours in.  Plastic boxes sometimes give off an off-putting smell in a hot, closed space.  Imagine sitting on the bus beside someone with B.O. 
Plastic boxes are bulky and too big for our little storeroom that’s already packed to the ceiling with books, an old typewriter, pots and pans (we only put out what we use so it would be easier to lug stuff up in case flooding happens), coolers, old cameras, colored bottles and stuff we collected but aren’t ‘collectibles” in the valuable sense.  If there is a God of Small Things, He/She would be in there. I love that book, though I am using the phrase here for literally small things.  Christmas, to me, is a small thing that gets its big deal-ness from helping us defy the big things (life issues) for a while.  Know what I mean?
The suitcase is sturdy and flexible at the same time.  Not leather that is bound to crack in the heat.  Polyvinyl, maybe. You put the fragile ornaments in their original plastic packs, cushion them with clear envelopes holding cloth angels and fluffy Santa, then pad them all around with the garlands. 

I am the Holiday Keeper (decorator, ornaments buyer, collector, color and theme planner etc).  This year I wound a garland hung with deep red bulbous thingies along with three bunches of fake grapes that the rest of the year sat on the fruit bowl.  

Our Christmas tree was festooned with angels, snowmen, and the mirror balls (which last year  hung on garlands around picture windows, with blue and silver balls.  Round the tree were new white and gold wire ribbons.  Last year it was red, gold, silver and blue.  I washed those ribbons and used them to accent gift boxes; some for cookie and brownie packaging.  I buy ribbons on sale, right after Christmas week, see, to use them for next time. 
The Looney Tunes collection I hung on a garland over the dining table, with gold beads and gold  “pipes” – recycled parts of a broken wind chime.  Over the kitchen counter, I hung a garland with small mirror balls and a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” string of light up letters. 

Outside was a three year old Pampanga  capiz parol depicting the Holy Family.  New this year is the Winter Tree lights on the terrace.  They’re spikes of lights you stick on snowy ground.  We don’t have snow, but I thought it looked nice in pots or stuck in the garden like colorful beacons.  It was a good buy anyway, bought at three hundred fifty pesos, down from a thousand and five (bought after Christmas, see?) Dad made wooden racks to stick them in so they would remain unsoiled and last longer.  Mom decided not to pack them up so we would have pretty lights when we need a bit of cheer.  Which brings me to note: I walked through the neighborhood on the third day of January and most of the lights are off.  After the bangs and booms of New Year’s, twink-ly lights everywhere you look, and the first rush of hope for newness, the merriment was dialed way down.  Back to work, school, utility rates increase and stress unrelieved by gifts and parties and the element of good surprises. Bad news is back, so is rain.  Well, there is always bad, but it is easier to swallow with a happy Holidays pill (and the Christmas bonus!). Everyone is buckling down to tasks with some reluctance.  Like me.
We are all waking up from dreamland to face truths not couched in happy details like how to make new food out of old ham (not so old anyway), wolfing down twelve kinds of fruit before they spoil, the bitter sweet rituals of seeing friends and family - off to their own everydays somewhere else. 
There’s a reason us Filipinos celebrate long Christmases, parties on New Year’s with a frenzy, and embrace the Chinese New Year with a whole lot of Feng Shui-ing going on.  We love parties and everything fun to shore up our good humor bank, so we can face off pesky tomorrows and soldier on.  
Happy New Year!   : )

P.s. I made Canonigo because I had so many egg whites from all the extra yolk I put in cookies.  My first time! It came out okay but the family wanted a more “substantial” dessert.  They said it was delicious but it’s like eating “air”, it melts in the mouth so.  I had a hard time with the custard but it turned out great.  I haven’t a picture.  It went pffft!!! I made a big one and a small one.  The big one we ate on New Year’s Eve.  The small one was shared by my cousin’s family when they visited the next day, before I could take a picture.  
So I made tablea cupcakes with the rest of the egg whites fluffed up with slightly burnt caramel syrup for frosting - that foamy looking thing on top, got that way in the fridge.  Not terribly "finished" looking and I used the wrong sized cupcake liner so the liners crinkled up in places.  The liners was a gift, I couldn't complain nor let them languish in a drawer.  It was for home, anyway.  We loved them anyway, too hehehe. 


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