Friday, August 11, 2006

Pine Scented Memories

Cocoy's Christmas Tree in the Paco house.
Memories of Christmases past would be a nice thing to write about. I am trying to search my mind for past images of Christmas mornings as a young boy who still believed in Santa Claus. I remember during my childhood we always had a Christmas tree where we used to hang our socks filled with hopeful letters to Santa Claus, telling him how good we’ve been and what we would like for Christmas. I would hang my sock in a branch that was at eye level…the most conspicuous place in the tree.

Our tree was a Baguio Pine that one could buy only during the Yuletide season. They have long since stopped cutting down the trees because conservationists were afraid that after a while the cutters will make extinct this pine species because of indiscriminate cutting. Lately the threat of its extinction is posed, not by Christmas commerce but by the numerous squatters in Baguio City. They have cut down the trees in the hills near the city as clearings for their hovels. I hope something is done to stem this increasing urban blight.
The Baguio Pine has a scent which one associates with Christmas and the pine needles are so much greener and thicker than the foliage of the Agojo Pine, a species found in the lowlands.

The buying of the tree was an event that I looked forward to. I would tag along with my older brother, Tito, to go to a vacant lot in the corner of
Governor Forbes Street where a big open truck would be unloading cut branches of Baguio Pine to sell as fresh Christmas trees. We would select a medium sized one and one that would have the best conical shape. To get the best looking tree one had to go there early otherwise what would be left of the lot would be the scraggly ones and the ones whose branches were just nailed together. Bringing home the tree was also a pleasure. My brother would put on his shoulder the heavy lower part of the tree while I would hold on to the top part walking behind my brother to prevent the tree from swishing. I would proudly march in the tiny eskinita where we live and enjoying all the while the nice comments of our neighbors, especially the kids as we passed them on the way home.

Angge's Christmas tree

My older brothers would do a bit of carpentry work to put together the base for propping up the tree. The base would then be covered with
Christmas wrapping making it look like a big gift box.

Christmas with neighborhood kids. The Dullanos and Sevillas

My sisters would bring out the tree decorations from out of the storage, dust them and start hanging them on the branches. There was a wide assortment of decorative materials. Plastic Christmas balls colored metallic red, green and blue, angels grouped together as a choir, funny looking thin Santas made out of pipe stem cleaners, bells of different sizes, plastic reindeers and metallic ribbons wound around the tree. The last to be done were the Christmas lights. My elder brothers were in charge of checking all the light bulbs, the wiring, replacing burned out bulbs and connecting two sets of Christmas lights together before stringing them up in the branches.

Now what would Christmas be without snow? A final touch is added on the sagged branches, weighed down by reindeers, colored balls, thin Santas etc…lumpy wads of cotton sparsely spread on the pine needles looking like a collection of snow flurries precariously resting on heavily laden branches.

Capping the activity was topping the tree with a big tinsel star, a privilege given to the youngest sibling, Angge, who was four at that time.
My brother , Dado, would put on a new stylus in the RCA phonograph and play Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. We would all take a step backward for a full view of our creation and looking at each other with smiles of approval and feeling good about the familial handiwork.


lovesjazzlovescoffee said...

Hello!! make me wish it were closer to that festive season!!

Christmas would not be Christmas with Bing Crosby's rendition of "White Christmas." My mother loved anything by Bing.

Another thing we always seemed to do on Christmas Eve, when my mom was with us, was watch "What WOnderful Life!" I love that movie and always think of it whenever I hear a bell ring...another angel just earned wings in heaven!! Such great memories!!

MY mom had special recipes that she only made at keep them special. Special, they were to me, too!!!

I have an artificial tree as my daughter is allergic to trees. I am happy we do have one as it saves a tree every year.

Your selecting, gathering, carrying, and decorating of the tree sounds so steeped in custom, warm and fuzzy custom!! Wonderful memories!!!

Thanks fopr sharing such special memories!!!

Enjoy your day and evening!!

wayfarer said...


There were eight of us children and putting up the tree was a sure fire thing to get us together.
I never tire of reminiscing the Christmases of our youth.



houseband00 said...

Great memories, dad! =)

Btw, visit my site. You've been tagged.

NanNan said...

When we look through the photo albums, it seems as if life was one continuous Christmas!!! Picture taking time, memory making times-- your post brings to mind so many emotions along with smells, tastes, and songs- the treasured decorations are the ones the kids made in school- kids--somehow it just isn't the same without them!!!

lovesjazzlovescoffee said...

I am sooo happy I didn't miss a blog from you whiole I was away!!!

I love your posts!! :)))

Funnyface said...

Oh the memories of Christmas as a child.I had the pleasure for many years of going with my Dad to chop down a tree.He always put the lights on,and my Mom put on the decorations.
There were 7 children in our family,and they probably all have there own memories.
But the best part was watching A Christmas Carol. I still do this.It just reminds me of Christmas as a child.

Funnyface said...

I have so many wonderful memories,of Christmas. I remember going in the woods with my Dad,to cut the perfect tree.My Dad put on the lights, and my Mom always put on the decorations.There were 7 children in our house, so it was busy.
I remember watching A Christmas Carol,and to this day I watch it every Christmas along with ITs A Wonderful Life.
Thank you so much for your wonderful memories...

wayfarer said...

Hi! Funnyface,

I've seen A Christmas Carol several times and my enjoyment of it has not diminished each time. Despite its commercialization Christmas evens to be one of those things that never misses to delight children of all ages.