We talked with Dra. Vicki Belo about Christmas with Scarlet among the unicorns and cotton candy
Without even seeing any Christmas decorations yet, the first signs that a little child lives in the Belo – Kho residence are the doodles on the driveway made in pastel colored chalk. And should there still be any doubts, all questions are dispelled coming up the front door, where a pair of unicorns ride upon Christmas wreathes.
“Before, I wasn’t so keen on Christmas because I didn’t have any kids in the house anymore. So we just had an ordinary tree. But when Scarlet was born, I wanted her Christmas to be special,” Dra. Vicki Belo confessed.
And special it was. The floor-to-ceiling confection of a Christmas tree in the middle of their living room is as special as Christmas decorations could get. Pastel-colored papier-mache unicorns was the theme of the year, and they came in all sizes scattered around the tree. Cotton candy floated about the tree; giant kernels of candied popcorn dotted the spaces in between the unicorn; magnum-sized papier-mache champagne bottles are concessions for the adults; and the rest of the spaces left the tree were filled in with regular-sized glass Christmas balls and desserts such as slices of cakes, cupcakes, donuts, and candies.
“Can you see the one decoration that doesn’t belong there?” Dra. Vicki asked. She pointed to the red cutout star covered in crumpled red Japanese paper hanging at about a child’s height from the ground. “Scarlet made it so she got to hang her own decoration,” she said proudly.
The majority of the decorations though were all made by Glitterville Studios, a holiday decoration studio created by Stephen Brown. They are famous for working with Oprah for her O Magazine’s holiday covers. Glitterville’s workshop happens to be in the Philippines. Stephen and Dra. Vicki met and became friends. When Stephen and his team met Scarlet when she was a baby, they were so enamored by her that they volunteered to make her a Christmas tree with a different theme every year. “The first year was Nutcracker; the second year was I think cakes and donuts; last year was Under the Sea —which was actually my favorite. This year it’s the Unicorn, which is actually his collection for next year.” Dra. Vicki added, “Anyway, unicorns are good luck, and Scarlet loves unicorns.”
Like most families, Dra. Vicki’s tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve with the immediate family, “They all come, wherever they may be in the world,” she said. “Two years ago, Scarlet started her own tradition. She took the crowns decorating the tree at that time and wore them upside down. It became a motif for our Christmas parties.” This is also why some of the unicorns have crowns hanging on their horns.
“My mom died two years ago,” she continued sadly, “And I haven’t been feeling up for Christmas since because it reminds me of her, and I’m still not over losing her. So I don’t feel like it right now.” Then she added, “But our family’s really grown, we have Scarlet, then Kristel got married and now has a baby, Quark’s getting married next year… Now that we have two babies: Kristal’s and Scarlet, Christmas has become more meaningful.”