Growing up in multicultural Singapore, Christmas was my second favorite time of year compared to Diwali. I celebrate Christmas, Chinese New Year, Thaipusam, Vesak Day, Eid, and Hari Raya and of course Diwali with my neighbors, school mates and friends. These different celebrations, religious ceremonies and gatherings and protocols of each culture provided beauty, delicious foods and savory dishes. Each was exciting, delightful, exotic, filled with rich traditions and superstitions, too.
these experiences were made possible because of my father. He believed
that all religions lead to the same destination and any one of his 10
kids could be part of every religious celebration if they were invited
and wanted to partake in the festivities.
I remember my first exposure to Christmas as a little girl was when I was allowed to tag along for midnight mass with our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd and their family. I loved celebrating Christmas at their home.
I was in awe with the story and significance of Christmas, the hymns, together with the lights and candles; the spirit of Christmas was a joy to be part of. Mrs. Lloyd’s home was just as beautiful, with her decorations - especially the manger that she so intricately displayed with twinkling lights, and her Christmas tree.
so, Christmas began every year with the Lloyds at midnight mass,
followed by a delicious meal on Christmas day. And her famous coconut
candy in green and red colors, made from scratch. No one made coconut
candy like Mrs. Lloyd.
My first Christmas in Canada was heartwarming. As a student at Simon Fraser University, I was living in a basement suite of a Muslim family, Mumtaz and Ali, with two adorable little girls who loved wearing mommy’s high heels and click clocking across the floor upstairs every afternoon.
I brought 2 gifts for Sophia and baby Nazrin. They did not reject my gesture and it was lovely to share in the joy and good wishes of the holiday season even though they celebrate Edi. Oh, what a joy!
As I reflect on Christmases, Edis, Chinese New Years and Diwalis, I realize that my father’s magnificent perspective can, and does, lead to the same destination. He knew that it would be wrong to live a life of fixed ideas. He was big on the evolution of building a community by embracing all the different cultures.
Presence and Presents Everywhere
and thoughtful presents are worth more than one can imagine. Give
generously. Some of the most meaningful gifts of kindness, patience, the
offering of your time and help do not cost a dime. The best presents -
your deeds and actions.
Spread the joy.
Happy Holidays and Best of the Season,