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Christmas Trees in the Philippines, Darren McGavin and my Dad

Saw online that if we lived in the Metro Manila area we could purchase a fresh, 7 ft. to 8 ft. Douglas fir tree for Christmas shipping directly from Oregon in the United States for 3,899.95 pesos, or almost 88 US Dollars. The S&R, Costco-like,  warehouse stores in the Manila area are selling these genuine Christmas trees with a reservation fee of P800 required. Of course it is way too expensive and impractical for us to make such a trip, but if we ever decided to relocate later in the Manila area, it's good to know for future reference that we have a place to buy a real Christmas tree.DSC


Used to have a real Christmas tree for years when growing up back in the States. Not those artificial monstrosities that I hated. Although Mr. Bishop, our landlord whose $30 a month rental home we lived in across the street , had a beautiful aluminum tree in his picture window that constantly changed colors. 
 
However, every Christmas while growing up in a small town in central Illinois, Mt. Olive, my Mom and Dad always purchased a fresh tree. A fancy, color-changing aluminum tree was certainly not in our budget. I went to school many times with patched jeans (ragged Levi's were not in vogue back then), and often wore shoes with cardboard lined inside when the soles developed holes. A tree like Mr. Bishop's was way out of our league.
 
After hauling the tree home on top of whatever Chevrolet we owned at the time,  Dad would always curse as he cut off the bottom of the tree to fit in our ancient metal tree stand since the job required multiple cuts and adjustments before the tree would sit straight in the stand. If you ever watched "A Christmas Story" and listened to the father,  portrayed by the late Darren McGavin,  let out a string of mumbled expletives, you would get an idea of what it was like around our house when Dad was getting angry or frustrated.
 
However, my Dad's curse words were clearly understood. Especially if the tree toppled over once it was in the stand. Oh, my, pity the poor kid that was nearby when that happened! It would be better to face the fierce fanning flames of Hell, than to experience an inspired string of curse words from my flustered father.
 
But once a good string of lights was found (after hours after testing each bulb to find the burned out one), and after Mom patiently placed those strands of silver "icicles" on the branches, the tree was ready for our ornaments from Christmases past. I set up my Christmas village which I purchased with my paper boy earnings (after I got my monthly supply of comic books from the downtown Rexall drugstore), and the magic of Christmas permeated through our home.
 
Simpler times. Good memories. I'm almost tempted to board a flight to Manila tree to buy one of those trees from S&R and bring it home via Super Ferry. Can't fit it into our budget, though. Think I need to get a new pair of shoes instead. Starting to get a hole in one of them. (P.S. Thanks to Tony and John in Austria for their recent comments on a post I had concerning mailing real postcards from the Philippines. I've currently revamping the project and adding new postcard choices.)

14 thoughts on “Christmas Trees in the Philippines, Darren McGavin and my Dad

  1. we didn't have a nice looking christmas until I was in my late 20's. my family will surely love to have the real thing but for that amount, no thanks!!

    hope you get a new pair of shoes before Christmas!;)

  2. Having also spent my boyhood in Illinois, and being we're the same age, I can recall similar memories of buying a real Christmas tree with Dad and putting it up. Also, the popularity of aluminum trees with the color wheel. Thanks for jogging my memory.

  3. That is one hell of a Christmas story. I really enjoyed that one just as I enjoy watching A Christmas Story every year. You could have been "Ralphie." I guess you miss the snow too? he he he…Alex

  4. Thanks, Mayet. I've had the same pair of shoes for years, but just wear slippers around the house, and when I go anywhere in our local town. For those that are unaware, the vinyl "sandals" which are popular in the Philippines are called "slippers."

    I doubt that we would buy one of those trees even if we were in the Manila area, indeed, way too expensive.

  5. Hi, Monty Man, yes, the color wheel! That's what was used with those aluminum trees. Glad to hear you had some similar memories, too, growing up in Illinois like I did.

  6. Hi Alex, thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the story. I made sure I packed my copy of "A Christmas Story" when we moved to the Philippines. I watch it every year, too.

    Yes, I do miss seeing the snow, and I miss the cold, but sure don't miss shoveling the snow

  7. Never had a real tree here in the Philippines, but the super rich people in Makati buy theirs from this farmer from Batangas who shows up annually to sell them pine trees… Those are wonderful memories you have of Christmas time from your childhood. 🙂

  8. Thanks for your comment, spinninglovelydays, I really am fortunate to have such good memories of Christmas from my childhood.

    And to be honest, I left this out of the article, we had a Martha Stewart artificial tree from K-mart the last few years we were in America. I have to confess, my wife did such a good job of decorating it that I almost forgot about having a real tree.

  9. Hi Dave,
    I live in Oregon and doug firs grow like dandelions around here. In fact there are some small stray ones next to my driveway I could send you…
    Anyway, I've been enjoying your blog for the last year or so. I'm also married to a Filippina and have fun reading what you're up to.  Merry Early Christmas.
    -Tbone

    • Hi Tbone,

      Man, I would love to have one of those Douglas firs! They’re like the ultimate Christmas tree. Looks like you have a plentiful supply of them.

      I really appreciate you following the blog, and hope you like the new website. Good to hear that you married a Filipina, also. It’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Merry Early Christmas, to you, too, my friend.

  10. Really nice article Dave. Just got to your new site here. your gettin all profesional on us 🙂 Putting everything in one conveinent spot.
    I am also in Oregon, My wife just araived in March, so she will have her first real Christmas tree this year. Knowing how tidy she is, and how much trees can shed in the house after a while, we might end up getting an artificial one next year.
    I grew up in Ohio and Indiana until I was about 12 and remember using bread bags in between layers of socks to try and keep our feet somewhat dry in the winter. And same for gloves. We always seemed to lose our gloves so we would put our hand in a bread bag, then a sock over that for a makeshift mitten. Good times eh ?
     
    Take care,
    Tony B

    • Thanks, Tony B, I’m glad you like the new site. I thought it would be easier for my readers (and myself) if I had everything on one central site. I’ll still be writing stories for “Lizard Poop!“, “The Rooster Crows at 4am!“, plus new material for this website.

      Glad to hear about your wife. I bet this will be one of her best Christmases ever, but I’m sure she will miss her family back in the Philippines. To be honest, my wife also pressed for a an artificial tree the last couple of years while we were still in the States. She hated the mess the real trees made, also.

      Bread bags? Never thought of using those instead of gloves. I wonder why my Mom never thought of that? Well, I sure won’t need any mittens here. Could use bread bags though over my slippers to keep my feet dry during the rainy season. Thanks so much for visiting the new website, Tony. Take care.

  11. Dave,
    Your story about the olden days reminds me of my childhood back in the late fifties.
    My father and I always went to one of the farmers outside town on our bicycle to buuy a nice real christmas tree. It was him also putting it in the stand and later putting the lights. My mother also did finishing the decoration of the tree. But as the oldest child in the family it was my duty to first light the completed tree.
    Thanks for the story.
    Jan

    • Wow, Jan! You got to light the tree? I was the oldest in our family, but I never got that privilege! Yes, my Mom also decorated the tree after my Dad got the tree in the stand and the lights on it. Glad you liked the story. I think most of us have some good memories of our childhood and Christmases past.

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