Christmas decor guide for the homeless

or, my 5 winningest tips on how to gladden your Yuletide surroundings while living on the streets with your kariton, karton and tarpaulin.

(Posted earlier on 9 November, and reposted today to include the fifth winningest tip. Inspired by an ABS-CBN news feature, delivered in the cheeriest tone by our favorite anchorwoman.

Choose the basic shape and material of your tree. It should look like a proper conifer — conical and pointed at the top, to really evoke the Xmas spirit. Many traffic-flow and mall-walk pollards are just the right size and shape for that… even though they hardly smell like pine trees.

Also, your tree should not look like a coconut tree or palm frond, because that’s for Holy Week. Santa Claus wouldn’t find your Xmas tree, as he’s usually vacationing in the Bahamas or Club Med during Holy Week, sipping a margarita surrounded by many nubile and gracile, um, palm fronds.

Choose the proper height and size of your Xmas tree. It should not be too big and too tall as to attract the interest of street cops and mall guards. It should fit into your rucksack or kariton for a quick evacuate-relocate… just in case the cops/guards decide to shoo you away.

Be very selective in the decors that you hang or wrap around your tree. These should enhance, not dampen, the natural beauty of your tree and its Xmas spirit. Crumpled aluminum foil and styrofoam snow are ok, though, as they’re easy to pick from trashcans, often gaily decorated already.
Avoid expensive trinkets, glitter stuff, and cute little Funko figurines — unless they induce a powerful surge of Xmas spirit in mall guards and mallgoers, in which case they’ll probably allow you near the entrance, admire your Xmas tree as part of the mall decor, and mistake you and your baby as a life-sized Belen.

Plan well how to light your Xmas tree. Avoid those wall-to-wall colored LED bulbs that are sold in Raon and Divisoria, especially if made in China. They are an expensive and power-hungry fire hazard, and you’d have a problem anyway finding a socket where to plug them.
One option: get a cheap flashlight to shine on your precious tree as you lull yourself to sleep in the dark while Xmas carols blare from nearby shops. Another option is to choose the frontage of such flashy-lights shops as your sleeping spot, so your aluminum-foil tree reflects them. Free LED lights!

Last and most important tip: If passersbys haven’t noticed your little Xmas tree by December 24, make sure to sleep early tonight, preferably near a church where more people will notice it as they go to attend the Christmas Eve Mass.
While asleep, your dream might even include a kind family that, after attending the Mass, gently wakes you up, invites you to go home with them to partake of their Noche Buena feast, to enjoy the lights of their towering and resplendent Christmas tree, and perhaps even the cozy warmth of a real bed in one of their guestrooms?
And who knows, your Christmas Eve’s dream might turn true, at least for tonight, into an incredible Jean Valjean reality. In which case, good for you.
A reminder, though. Stay away from the silverware… unless you’re asking for EJK at the hands of the Filipino gendarmerie. Have a merry merry Les Miserables Christmas!


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