Media Noche Memories

Posted: December 27, 2006 in All and Sundry

I was never fond of Christmas. And for the past years, I always spent it like Scrooge, in my apartment, watching dvds and listening to music. Unlike my friends, I don’t usually get excited about going home to be with family and friends. For the past years, I have stayed in Davao City where Christmas eve is silent; no fireworks, no “paboto,” because it is only in DC that fireworks and other holiday “explosives” are banned. But it is also in DC that I have spent the two weirdest and memorable Christmas as yet.

Last year, I celebrated Christmas eve for the mere reason that it’s a tradition you have to keep to stay sane. At midnight, my good friend Douglas and my sister Rose gorged ourselves with the vegetarian pasta I cooked (I think it was penne in can-can sauce) and steak, drank beer and wine, and listened to Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill (the newly released 10 year anniversary version), which we played back again and again as though the entire album was looped like a broken record except that it wasn’t annoying.

At one point when Alanis sang, “What’s the matter Mary Jane, got a heartache?” Douglas suddenly broke into tears of utter nostalgia and went blabbering about those years we spent in Silliman when the album first came out; how we were once Mary Janes in our own little way; how we also screamed “and Im here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away!” I joined in the nostalgia tripping the moment Alanis sang “Ironic.” Soon, Rose, Douglas and I were dancing in the small sala, flexing our torso, stretching our legs in mock arabesque, and whirling in frenzied movements ala Alanis in her concerts.

What a Christmas eve that was.

Christmas 2004. This was the year Gene Boyd died. So December was a miserable month for us. The events that happened around this time has remained completely a blur to me, which is what makes it memorable. All I recall are moments of complete inebriation. Booze, booze, booze and more booze. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. (Just kidding!) Christmas eve was spent in Penny’s house. I remember having a long nostalgic conversation with her during the media noche (when people are supposed to be partying and eating noche buena) in their veranda about Boyd. I remember smoking two cigarette packs. I remember talking about calamities and how Christmas is some annual spell to make us forget about the tragedies we and other people face every day. And I remember suddenly feeling so “anti-christmas,” that I promised I’ll never celebrate it again.

But that never happened.

Wonder of all wonders! This year, I just decided to spend Christmas with my family.I braved the seven-hour bus ride to Cagayan de Oro,which was an achievement for me since I’ve always dreaded that long stretch in Bukidnon, with the tortuous roads that seem to snake towards nowhere.

On the way to CDO, I saw outside the bus’s window, children lined up by the roadside, their palms outstretch begging for alms. The conductor warned us not to throw coins since a few days before, a kid got hit by a bus because he was trying to catch coins thrown by a passenger. The sight of barefooted children by the roadside yelling for money made my stomach knot. Here I was going to visit my family, thinking of shopping for presents while these kids are scrambling to get a few coins from passersby.

Christmas eve in CDO was relatively good than our past family gatherings. As Rose wrote, nobody cried or fought among us, which was a surprise considering that since childhood, family gatherings on Christmas eve was always filled with melodrama. Finally, I got to bring brazo de mercedes home, which my sisters were happy enough to binge on. I guess you could say it was an uneventful media noche. And I secretly missed the drama since I’m relatively sick dysfunctional person. But then again, it was all for the best.

My favorite part was when my sisters and I gathered round the tv to watch “Mean Girls” for the nth time while sipping red wine. Pearl’s face turned really red after an hour of drinking. Her nose was so red. “You looked like Rudolph,” I pointed out. We all waited for the Jingle Bell rock routine. And laughed at the funny scenes: “I think I have ESPn or something. My boobs can always tell if it’s going to rain..” says one of the characters.

It was a normal Christmas eve. I guess we all deserve to have one.

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