Missing Our Living Room and Our Long Narra Table, This Christmas - The Soapbox Filipina
Christmas memories with my family -are my prized possessions. ( I am sure it is also, for you)
I cherish those moments with my family. It is because, among us siblings, I was the one, who spent most of my time, away from them. I was sixteen, when I left home for college. I rarely went home for Christmas, when I was working. Now, I permanently reside in Manila, with my family.
This year, most of us did not go home to barangay Consolacion in Cagayan De Oro City, for Christmas. ( it was the first time also, for my parents, to spend Christmas, with a different postal code) But we are home –just by being together.
My three brothers and my brother-in-law were home from abroad.
I am grateful that we were together as a family, this Christmas season.
There are two things, however, which I am accustomed to on Christmas time, that I actually missed. Yeah, I am missing our living room and our long narra table, this Christmas.
1. CHRISTMAS MORNINGS IN THE LIVING ROOM
The memories I have of Christmas, would be those early Christmas mornings with the family, in the living room of the Banaag residence.
I love those mornings. Everyone would just lounge lazily in the house. No hint of the days gone by, that was filled with so much activity. My brothers including my father would be walking around the house, with no shirts on –shaming Bench models and Coco Martin, like that. ( or as my Lola would say, ” hukas-hukas.)
I do have a brother though, who would already be dressed up, ( “ispooting” ) prepared for the Christmas Mass.
By the sofa would be my sister Mirzi, reading a book, a Stephen King or the Popular Science. ( yes, on Christmas mornings) My brother Marco, would be by the radio -listening to his favorite songs.
I distinctly remember, how everything looked like on Christmas mornings.
Our sala would be a picture, of order and chaos. Scattered all over the floor, in our living room, would be small pieces of paper or what was left of the christmas gift wrappers.
Our sala would also be filled with empty KATOL boxes -which were used to box the manito-manita gifts , the night before.( then of course, we grew older, a teeny bit “sosyal’ and we stopped using katol boxes -for we could already afford, the gift boxes from the mall) ( so no more, “Katohl -pak patay ang lamohk.”)
I remember hearing the voices, of my younger siblings, Pia, Steffi, and Geo.
I remember hearing their footfalls too -footfalls moving towards the direction of the Christmas tree. They would be checking out their gifts from Santa. -a tradition, we all grew up with. ( My two younger sisters would be reading this. I am pretty sure they would say, “Tinuod gyud Ate? Imo pa gyud ma remember among mga footfalls?” P.S. my brothers call these two younger girls, ” Mad-Litas”, by the way.)
It was only during Christmas time, when the living room gets cramped and crowded. It was when my mom would put up the Christmas tree, the Belen and the rest of her Christmas decorations.
You see, on ordinary days when we were younger, our airy living room would be bare.
It would have a sofa, a few narra chairs and side tables. It had throwpillows that matched the color of the curtains. There were no gadgets or modern appliances back then, save for a colored television. (if only to distinguish it, from the black and white t.v.s that were still around that time.)
It had nothing expensive, except for maybe the numerous books around it. It had nothing special, apart from the precious laughter of my younger siblings.
It used to be the biggest world we had, as children –all of us eight children.
Our living room, well, it was living, it was life, most especially on Christmas mornings.
2. THE LONG NARRA TABLE IN OUR KITCHEN
Our kitchen, like most Filipino homes in the province, has a long narra table in the middle of it. On Christmas mornings, our narra table hold the left-over food, from Noche Buena.
I would be, by our narra table, eating cold spaghetti. (yes, straight out of the fridge – tirador ng pastang lamig)
Beside me, would be my younger brother, Vito Filip scraping the icing off the butter cake from Dayrit’s of Pacana Burgos.
Right across us, would be Dad drinking his sikwate. ( hot chocolate )
My mom would by the sidelines, taking a spoonful of the food that she cooked the night before.
Then, she would suddenly become her own food critic. She would always start with her leche flan.
“Buskag ug lata lagi ni akong leche flan.” ( soggy leche flan) But it is not. My mom makes great leche flans.
It is just, the poor leche flan gets this every Christmas time.
( if only those leche flans could speak every Christmas time, it might have told my mom : “Sorry ha, hindi ako purr-fect!’ -Lea Salonga in ” Sana Maulit Muli.”)
Next on her list would be the buko salad.
“Hala na tam-isan ra diay to nako ang buko salad kagabii.” (the buko salad last night was too sweet) “Kulang ug raisins, gikaon sa mga bata.” [it lacks raisins, the kids ate them (raisins) ]
Or the hamonado/a.
“Hala parat diay ‘tong hamonada gabii.” (the hamonada dish was salty)
To which my Dad would add,
“Oo, balud nalang ang kulang, dagat na.” (“Alon na lang ang kulang, dagat na.”)(Add some waves, you get the sea.”)
Having heard that, she would pick up the whole hamonada form the table, place it back in her large kettle and cook it again with brown sugar.
Upon seeing the missing hamonada from the table, one of my brothers, who just stepped into the kitchen, would suddenly say. ” WALA KO KA KAON.” ( I have not eaten )
“Wala ko ka kaon,” in my big family is delivered in a melodramatic way. It annoys my mom, once in a while, since we make it sound, like she have not fed us, EVER!
Our narra table is privy to many scenes like this, especially during Christmas time. Our narra table -together with the mantil ( table cover) stand witness, to many Noche Buena Feasts and Christmas mornings in the family.
Christmas came and went. But the Christmas spirit of love and family stays. It is Christmas 2014. Most of us, have families of our own, now. I, my sister, my three younger brothers are married with children.
But for now, I most especially thank our spacious living room and our long narra table for the happy times together. I miss you both!
To everyone, I hope you all had a Happy Christmas!