Christmas is neither time nor season,
But rather, a state of mind.
Continuing on from my earlier recollection of Christmas memories in Borneo, there’s one big part of the entire Yuletide celebration that I’d like to share today.
Which, in essence, means the nativity scene showing Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, in the manger, surrounded by livestock, shepherds and the three Kings.
Every year since I was maybe 8 or 9, my brother, Joseph, and I would decide on a theme, and then create all the figurines from scratch. We’d work with clay to shape and mould and create. Then the figurines would be laid out under the sun to dry, a process which could take up to several days for the clay to be fully hardened and sturdy. After that came the fun part, the painting.
Each figurine would be painted based on the chosen theme. I don’t remember all of them but two have stuck in my mind. One year, we had an Oriental theme going, complete with trimmings fashioned from Pussy Willow and bamboo. There was also that year we based the Nativity Scene on an African tribal theme (quite possibly my fave).
Now when I say “we“, I mean Joseph, my brother. Wherein I tend to lean towards the written word (love you, Mum), his gifts have always been visually inclined. The man can draw. And paint. And create magic with a paint brush. He takes after my Dad who can whip up some spectacular images with oils.
So yeah, I was more of the “press and pinch” the clay to look as human as I possibly could while Joseph breathed life and personality into them. And he was really good at that.
Another memory strong and fresh in my mind is from childhood, yes, but Eve’s childhood, not mine. From the time she could comprehend, we’ve implemented the tradition of naming our Christmas trees (yes, even the fake ones in Singapore were duly baptised). Over the years, we’ve run the gamut from (in random order) Olaf to Pinkadoodledoo to Cat Woman to this year’s incarnation, Miu Miu.
YOU READ THAT RIGHT
Our big, poufy tree for 2016 has been named after one of Italy’s most opulent and luxurious couture women’s clothing and accessory brands, Miu Miu, which is headed by Miuccia Prada. Incidentally, did you know Miu Miu was her nickname growing up?
When our families merged (and went from 1+1 and 1+2 = 5), we started a new tradition and that was the Christmas Tree Skirt. I wish I had pictures to show you how the three children (who were aged 10, 7 and 6 at the time) were huddled together at the dining table. Drawing and cutting out shapes from felt, decorating and trimming them with sparklies and baubles, and then pasting them onto this gorgeous and decadent piece of red velvet.
There were stars and snowmen and fir trees and odd (unrecognisable) shapes and glitter. Loads and loads and loads of glitter. To this day, we’re still using that same handmade skirt and it sits proudly under the tree even as I write.
We have several smaller (but no less significant) traditions for Christmas that are equally precious. Such as Christmas Eve Dinner with all five of us followed by Christmas Day Lunch with just Eve, my husband and myself after mass. Stockings for the three children, stuffed to rival Santa’s girth with sweet treats and confections of every possible permutation.
Now that two of them have gone onto university (and my baby will follow suit come Fall 2017, sob), things are a little different. That element of wide-eyed innocence has long since given way to Christmas wishlists and whatever fresh new IN thing marketing giants are throwing out into the market these days. Sad but realistic.
All things said and done though, I’d still like to believe our children have not forgotten how blessed they are. How very fortunate their lives have been up to now, and that they will not lose themselves in the journey that lies ahead. I admit, I often wonder if we’ve done wrong by them, in providing for their every need. Should we perhaps have allowed them to struggle a smidge? Taste failure just once? In order that they may fully appreciate the value of life, of accomplishment (no matter the scale)? And yet as parents, how could we have done otherwise but bubble-wrap them as tightly and snugly as we possibly could? And hope for the best.
Sentiments and musings aloud, welcome to the last edition of Project Sister Act for the year (I just realised that Project Sister Act turns 2 in February 2017, wow).
Our story this month revolves around five women (spanning teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s) and our interpretations of Victorian Romance. I’m very certain that as you continue to scroll down and view our individual stylisations of this theme, you’ll witness just how varied a seemingly generic concept can actually be, when perused, dissected, and then put back together again, by so many different personalities with such varied points of view when it comes to aesthetics. Come see for yourself.
Eve (the world according to eve)
Who would’ve thought such a dainty look could exude Victorian Romance so wholeheartedly? I mean, when I think of Victorian Romance, I think something baroque and OTT and with a bustle. Eve’s look is, at the one same time, fresh and feminine and charming and delicate. There is, naturally, a hint of sass. Just peer closer at the ring on her right hand.
Oby Grace (Oby Grace)
Now this is what I would call a polished Victorian Romance ensemble. Sleek and chic and veering on the minimalistic spectrum of things, and that in itself makes for an amazingly cool style contradiction, wouldn’t you agree? The flirty pouf of her tulle skirt against that stark white turtleneck, and then those in-your-face animal print heels. Divine.
Elsie (polished whimsy)
Then we have Elsie who puts together her outfits with such imagination and whimsy (I had to) that if I didn’t seriously adore her, I would seriously
hate envy her. Her ethereal ballerina skirt goes wonderfully with those modern day granny booties. Then you add in the classic pearls and that tweed blazer with delicate ruffles as well as zipper detail. I heart.
Me (sheela writes)
Say the words Victorian Romance and I think bold red, dramatic black. Ruffles and bustles, corsets and waist ties, granny boots and fascinators, mourning lace and jet. Metal too. What can I say, I’m very much into a steampunk-based world when it comes to this particular period of style and so my interpretation involves several of those elements. Clearly.
Dawn Lucy (fashion should be fun)
Anyone who’s been following The Fab 40s series knows this lady here. She was one of our original members and I knew that the instant I could, she’d be right here as part of Project Sister Act. Say hello to my friend Dawn Lucy who is such a shining example not only of how style knows no age boundary, but also how one can most certainly have fun with fashion and playing dress up, no matter how old one is. Don’t you just adore how her Victorian Romance look is fashioned from pants???
And that, my friends, is Project Sister Act for 2016. What a way to close an eventful year. My sincere appreciation and gratitude to every woman in this month’s line-up, and to every woman who has ever joined me in propagating the message that style cannot be dictated by neither societal expectations nor “rules“. That fashion is very personal, very individual, and must always be approached with a spirit of adventure and a healthy dose of fun.
Happy Christmas to all.
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p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa
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