How to build your children’s memories of Christmas | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Guess what! The COD Christmas display is still around! Okay, maybe you knew that already, but I had no idea! Imagine my surprise when I received a call last Saturday night as the kids and I were on our way home. But I am getting ahead of myself.

As I promised last week, I am sharing more Christmas displays you can visit with your young children.

This week, we made our way to Cubao to check out a floating lights parade. We stood on a corner and at 6 p.m. sharp, the parade began. There were six floats all lit up—a fish, crab, sea horses, flamingos, another fish and poinsettias. Very pretty to look at, but I think they’re meant as entertainment for people who already happen to be there, as the whole parade passes you by in about five minutes.

Before leaving, we paused to admire the giant tree and its lights and tried to listen to the choir singing carols in front of it. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find a place to listen to them peacefully, so we eventually decided to switch to Plan B.

Christmas village

Earlier during the week, I found a flyer for a Christmas Village in Eastwood City, Libis. I was about to toss it aside when something in it caught my eye—a snow shower! In Manila? This might be worth a visit, I thought to myself.

The flyer said it was at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, so at 7:45 p.m., we went off to Citywalk 2 and killed time by making up stories about the mini houses there. There are about five little houses, so one house is where the elves stay while the others are for the Princess, Santa Claus, etc.

It’s easy enough to come up with something, and before we knew it, “snow” began to fall from the skies. Obviously, it was not real snow, but I thought it was a good alternative. I won’t spoil the surprise, but don’t worry, I promise it’s not styrofoam or a confetti shower (which I initially thought it would be).

Adriana was immediately entranced by the falling white snow, while Juanmi looked a little bewildered as he tried to figure out what was falling all around him. There was a lot of laughter and shrieks from all the kids around who were all happily standing in the “snow” and holding their hands out to catch it.

At one point, I looked over at Adriana and saw that she was hugging herself and rubbing her bare arms. I asked her if she was all right, and she said, “Mama, I’m cold! The snow is so cold!” I had to stifle my laughter so as not to ruin things for her.

The only snow she has ever seen is on TV. That night, with snow falling all around her, she transported herself to a real winter wonderland, where naturally, the temperature was below zero. Children’s imagination—isn’t it amazing?

One day, many years from now, when my kids have long outgrown this type of entertainment, they may forget exactly what we saw, but hopefully, they will remember the fun and laughter we shared as we joyfully counted down to the birthday of Jesus.

The snow shower lasted about 15 minutes, which was just right, as any longer than that and the kids might get too wet and end up with a cold. Bring an extra shirt and a small towel to wipe them up with in case they get a little too wet.

By then, it was time for dinner, and as we got into the car, I discovered a few missed calls and messages. I returned my husband Migs’ call, and to make a long story short, he informed me that the COD display was still, and kicking, in Greenhills!

Mechanized mannequins

The next day, we drove the kids straight to Greenhills to catch the display. Technically, it wasn’t the same display, but it was the same concept of mechanized mannequins moving and dancing to light and music, its story enough to enchant the little ones.

I don’t know if there is a real viewing area, as the stage is high above our heads, directly underneath the Greenhills sign, above an outdoor tiangge, but since we had limited time, we searched for a spot in the crowd and craned our necks up to catch the show as it began. It was just like the good old days!

The music soon began and lights came on. The set, consisting of houses, a castle and swans, soon came alive as the story of a young prince was told. This was about his search for a wife, and how he chose one based on her kindness and charity.

It was nice to hear the narrator repeatedly describing the princess that way, going beyond the usual physical descriptions of beauty. There was a bit of a Cinderella to it with a Christmas fairy floating around and granting a young girl her wish.

When it was over, about 15 minutes later, my kids both clapped as the mannequins bowed to the audience. Juanmi blew flying kisses at what he must have thought were real people, while Adriana excitedly shouted, “Again! Again!”

Was it as nice as I thought it was 20 years ago? Who knows? To be honest, I can barely even remember the exact details of those Christmas displays anymore. But as they say, the heart remembers what the mind cannot, and those are the memories I fall back on when I think of the Christmases of my childhood.

While I just vaguely recall dancing toy soldiers and angels, I clearly remember the thrill and magic it brought to my days, as well as the anticipation and the joy I had as I looked forward to watching.

Last Sunday, as I looked up and watched another run of the display, one thing was clear: the magic was still there, but this time, it wasn’t coming from the show anymore, but from the children’s smiles.

The Greenhills display runs every night from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Be ready for a crowd, and make sure to keep your kids close.

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