The road to Legazpi—just a little past the invisible line dividing Sorsogon and Albay—is again lined with Christmas stars. There they are, parols in varying shades and sizes, lending a burst of color to the stretch of handicraft stalls in an otherwise lonely highway.
From the little that I recall of the mandatory copies of Junior Citizen, I know for a fact that the parol is, among others, a symbol of unity. The star that led the Wise Men to the manger was the same star that shone on the shepherds as they watched over their flock. The Christmas star is then seen as a guiding light, one that crosses manmade demarcation lines.
But as two of my aunts will haughtily tell anyone who care to listen: “unity, my foot!” The War in the D clan has been raging for years now, and there seems to be no letup in sight. Truth is, it gets all the more fiery when the cool winds of December start kicking in.
Four years ago, Aunt A, who is known for her major production numbers and whose department always took home the prize for “best Christmas décor,” wanted a whole crateful of red-and-green abaca lanterns shipped to her. Her pride, it seemed, rested on that shipment: she was on the wings of retirement, and more than anything she wanted that best-décor plum as her coup d’ grace.
Aunt B, sensing that a crateful was just too much of an effort, couriered one instead. She timed the delivery on December 16, so that Aunt A can plunge right into the Christmas spirit. Logistics aside, the solitary parol—Aunt B felt—packed a lot more meaning than the 50 Aunt A wanted. After all, didn’t the Wise Men and the shepherds follow just one star?
As it turned out, Aunt A didn’t see the wisdom in Aunt B’s decision. To her, it was all or nothing. And one was definitely an insult. Reunions--usually capped by a teary rendition of "If We Hold on Together"--have since been put off. The more important and unavoidable of life's ceremonies--baptisms, weddings and funerals--have also been occasions for toeing lines, biting tongues and walking on tightrope. More than half a century’s worth of emotional baggage has been set off. And all because of a blasted parol!
BUT just when I thought the parol episode was the pits, the D clan is threatened by yet another war of (possibly) epic proportions. And the bone of contention? A glassful of protein-rich, osteoporosis-inhibiting taho.
From Star Wars to Taho Wars? Some families sure are strange. Make that strangely funny.