When I was a little brat, the only thing I hated about the holidays was the inevitable deluge of visitors. What seemed like an endless parade of vans would disgorge relations or family friends from out of town, who descended upon our family as their holiday treat.
I especially hated when this happened on Christmas Day because it meant we couldn’t open the gifts until every last visitor went away. Seeing that giant pile of unopened gifts winking at you until five or six in the evening on Christmas Day was just pure torture. Then of course there was all the noise (which we Pinoys find necessary to make holidays “masaya“) and fawning and pinching that comes with all those people. My mom still has pictures of little bratty me clinging to her and refusing to talk to people. One look at my squelched-up tampo face and you can practically hear me begging her to just send all these people away.
Eventually either I got used to it or the number of holiday crashers dwindled (Christmas visitors, of course, being directly proportional to size of house and family income), but soon enough I got old enough to not want quiet holidays so badly.
Twenty-odd years later I finally, surprisingly get my wish.
Marlon and I had been thinking of heading down to Marina Bay for the New Year’s Eve countdown, the only place where fireworks are legal in this country. But I hadn’t been feeling well and the thought of massive crowds, an epic trek home by bus, or squabbling with half of Singapore to get a taxi afterwards struck me dumb with fear. So I stayed at home and rested. Which was… really, really nice.
While the fish was in the oven, I slipped into a nice long dress that I normally don’t wear out, and spritzed on some perfume. Marlon put on a red t-shirt with a Chinese character on it that he hoped meant something like good fortune.
We cleared the dining table of the junk it manages to accumulate every so often to make space for some cream-colored hybrid carnations that Marlon had bought for me the day before. I set out strawberries in a bowl, lit a handful of tealights from Ikea, and turned off all the lights except for the Christmas tree and a paper floor lamp. Et voila!