It’s Christmas today. Let me wish you a Merry Christmas, first of all. It’s actually super early in the morning, at 2.45am when I’m typing this. Most of you will be sleeping. My sleeping time, as usual, is just not like the ordinary people. I previously posted a video on Christmas here.
Technically, I don’t celebrate Christmas because I’m a Catholic or Christian but I celebrate Christmas because being Malaysian, we celebrate all sorts of celebrations as we are a multi-national country. Being in events and business, we just wish everyone else a Merry Christmas, just like how we would wish other people Happy Chinese New Year, Selamat Hari Raya or Happy Deepavali when that celebration is coming or takes place. It’s not like we specifically go to the church/temple/mosque and go through rituals for each celebration but we just join in the celebration and be joyful for the other race that is celebrating that celebration. If we are invited to someone’s open house, then we celebrate with them or have some of that celebration’s specialty food.
Christmas Eve was nothing too rowdy but a quiet dinner with parents. I appreciate it and I know it’s not something that I can have forever because one day my parents will not be here anymore. You know, people get old and they will one day pass away. We have to accept this. I know it’s not always that I eat at the same time, same table with my family even though I’m at home because at times I’m occupied with my work or my sleeping time is different from theirs. Still, I will appreciate the time I have with them.
I miss my Grandma. Holidays without my Grandma hasn’t been the same ever since she passed away. It’s just… quiet. Very mellow and there isn’t that festive feeling in the air. It’s felt the most when it comes to Chinese celebrations. Winter Solstice Festival just passed 3 days ago (22/12/2017). During this festival, people will eat rice glutinuous balls (“tong yuen” in Cantonese or “tang yuan” in Mandarin). My Grandma always said Winter Solstice Festival is always a more important celebration than Chinese New Year. She would always be busy hurrying around the house, preparing for the festival weeks and sometimes months before the festival itself. She always made the festive felt in the air – the sense of urgency, the preparation, the details for the festive items, the prayers involved… She is the only living Grandma I had in my life and no one can replace her. My elderly colleagues back in UK always claimed that they are my Grandmothers in UK. No one can take my Grandma’s place. You can call yourself my Grandma but you’re just not her.
The best memory I had of Christmas was the time when I just finished high school. My whole family went on a hiking trip in the morning of Christmas. Then we had some tea at the top of the hill before descending the hill again to go home. Then we watch Christmas cartoons and movies before having family lunch at home. I’ll usually take afternoon naps before having fruits and snacks for tea time. Then we had turkey dinner with my father popping a wine or champagne bottle. Night time, the whole family will gather at the living room and watch movies. One of the favourite movies during Christmas will be the re-run of Home Alone series. Somehow I don’t get tired of watching the re-run of Home Alone.
I remember that year, we went to Melbourne, Australia before Christmas for my 2nd sister’s graduation. My Grandma and 1st sister didn’t come for the trip, so my Grandma was home with my Aunty who came from KL. The trip to Australia was one where we were enhancing our “rushing” skills because it started with me having to hurry home and to the airport the moment I finished my last SPM exam paper. Not much time to say goodbye to my high school friends. Back then we didn’t have Facebook and all these social media, and some of us don’t even have e-mails that makes it so much easier to connect with everyone online. Then at the airport, we had to rush to make the connection flight from KL/Singapore (I can’t remember which airport the connection flight was) to Melbourne. Then a few times in Australia, we had to rush to make it to different tourist spots because my father decided to fit in as many tourist spots to visit as possible. My Mummy made a joke and said that as long as we step one foot into the tourist spot, then we are considered to have visited the place eventhough we didn’t get to see the whole place. I would rather take my time to admire and see the places to be honest.
After that we came home to Penang, Malaysia. It was a time full of uncertainty yet full of hope for the future. I was about to embark on a future after finishing high school where I was go to college and to choose my course of studies. So much for choosing as in the end it was IT that was chosen by my father, which I have written about here. At the end of the day, I feel it doesn’t matter what I studied because business is what I want to do and I am living my own chosen path now. Anyway, that was also a time full of hope because there was so much of possibilities, with the future just beginning after school and at such a young age, so many things I could do. It was also the year my 2nd sister was coming home for good to Malaysia after she was away for 4 years in Australia. So, it was a Christmas gathering of all of us in our home.
As for the hiking, it wasn’t my favourite kind of physical exercise or fitness activity. In high school, I was sporty and liked sports; I took part in running for my sports team, lead the aerobics team, played basketball and a little of tennis. No problem with hiking but I found that walking downhill, there is the impact on the feet when you feet hits the ground with every step you take, that wouldn’t be good if it’s done too constantly. I would rather choose a flat ground kind of physical acitivity.
We started at the same point at the bottom of the hill and we just hiked up based on our own pace. Those who like to go faster will climb up the hill faster and those who prefer to go at a slower rate will just take a comfortable walk up, with some of us forming smaller groups. The path up the hill was mainly paved with tar road with some parts needing a little bit of climbing, so it wasn’t too bad as you can choose to walk on the paved road or choose to climb the muddy path. At the top of the hill, they serve chrysanthemum tea and ginger tea. So you can enjoy the view from the top of the hill while sipping on tea and get some rest before you make your way down the hill again.
Sometimes before Christmas, I would bake cookies on Christmas eve or a few days before. It would usually be butter cookies or chocolate chip cookies. I would sometimes use the Christmas cookie cutter set.
For Christmas after that year, I was usually be out celebrating countdowns outside. Sometimes I’ll have dinner with my family for Christmas Eve then I’ll be out for dinner on Christmas Day with my friends or my boyfriend back then or it’s Christmas Eve celebrated outside then Christmas night with family. Most of the time, the countdown will be in clubs because that’s where we’ll head to after dinner. I always preferred clubbing to pubbing because I get to dance at clubs. It was one of my form of exercising – dancing to songs in clubs.
As I grew older, it progressed to higher-end kind of venues and lounge. There’s less dancing. Not sure if this is due to age that there is less dancing or it’s because it’s just tiring after a long day at work, so it’s just sitting down and enjoying the drinks plus the company of friends who were there with me. I still see people older than me enjoying themselves dancing to songs in restaurants or lounges. Recently I just attended an event and met these 3 ladies who are in their 70s but yet they were the rare few who were dancing to songs after dinner. Age doesn’t matter to them and they just have fun. Perhaps one day I have to bring out that club-dancing woman in me again, the one that just knows how to have fun and have no shame in grinding very well with strangers and friends. Not everyone can grind well, mind you, it takes strong thigh muscles to do that. My KL friend used to ask me how I used to make my short skirt flutter while I shaked my behind and she used to look at it for a long time from behind. Nowadays I don’t even wear any skirts above knee length and find short skirts unsightly on anyone. What the hell happened to me.
Then it progressed to staying home rather than being out. It’s somehow so comforting to be staying home rather than being stuck in the jam or crowded places during these kind of celebrations (unless business calls for it). I would rather spend time alone learning about business advices online. I find it comfortable to be spending time alone. I actually used to be someone who cannot stand being alone but I have now found joy in being alone.
Christmas time was still enjoyable when I was younger and still get to spend it with family despite going out with friends for countdowns. After that, it was Christmas in United Kingdom. Watching movies of snowfall during Christmas, I always thought that Christmas would be magical in places with snow. You know the kind of feeling where you dream that it would be an amazing kind of celebration with that magical Christmas spark, in white snowy winterfall kind of environment with the warmth of your dear ones and friends gathering near you. It wasn’t like this at all for me and it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be. The movies make it seem much more extravagant than it is.
I remember the first time I saw snow, it was a special moment, I don’t deny. To feel snow for the first time, to play with it. Christmas though, wasn’t that magical in a cold, snowing foreign land. It gets dark very early and doesn’t become bright until very late in the morning, so you only have sunshine for shorter hours than usual. I can’t even remember how I celebrated my first Christmas in UK. It’s either my friends wanted to visit a church where they invited us to drop by for dinner but they ran out of food (how can that be !) or I celebrated over dinner and then clubbing with friends. In UK, the British love their pubs and they like to go pub-hopping and clubbing. Clubs and pubs will always be full even on weekdays, not to say just weekends. They really know how to balance work and fun. That was also the first time I went to a Boxing Day sale. Too crowded and the items are thrown around messily, so it was hard to properly shop. Not really my type of shopping. The stores were already stocked up with Christmas items sometimes as far back as September and some items are on discount near to Christmas time.
Second year in UK for Christmas was worse. There was this super empty feeling. During Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you’ll walk past rows of houses that are pitch black from the outside and it’s very quiet on the roads. Days before Christmas, it was super busy and the city centre is fully lighted up with lots of Christmas decoration at the shops. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s like Santa waved a magic wand, the crowd just disappeared, it’s just quiet and dark.
I celebrated Christmas at a church that year and also at the casino. I remember walking back from the casino and there’s this lonely feeling despite having my then boyfriend walking with me. The worst thing in life is not being alone; it’s having someone beside you but feeling lonely. He might think that just by being by my side is being a companion to me but he is very wrong. If he doesn’t know how to treat me right and just think by using words to say he’s treating me well but his actions are terrible, it means nothing. I should have walked away from that relationship long time ago instead of wasting my time. My Mummy always make fun of me and say why I wasted my time with such a person when there was so much of opportunities for better partners and I was surrounded by better man those years in UK. Relationships take time, from getting to know someone and building on the relationship which would have been better when younger. There are guys who drive Mercedes or BMW but can’t even take the lady they are interested in for a decent dinner and pay for it or to ask her out on a date to watch a movie at the cinema and just expects to jump into bed with her after a drink. Then there are those who look as ugly as a monkey’s backside who can look at pretty ladies and criticise them, making me wonder if they have looked at themselves in the mirror. I have met quite a number of these idiots, so ladies especially younger ladies, please be wary of these cheapskates and don’t ever lower your value and know your self worth. Perhaps I shall touch on this subject another time as I have met too many assholes that my stories might bring a laughter or two out of some of you.
Anyway, during that walk home from the casino, I knew I had to do something to cheer myself up (because some people are just so dumb they do not know how to despite being beside me), so I saw snow and I decided to play with it. All these nonsense stories about depression and needing doctors or medicine to treat it are just bullshit. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have depression but doctors and medicine can’t help you and some unprofessional doctors plus bad medicine will make you even more sick. You, yourself need to take yourself out of what is making you sad and make yourself happy. I don’t agree that depression is due to internal factors mentally, in fact I think it’s the external factors that makes it so such as environment, surrounding circumstances, people that cause you to be unhappy and problems you are facing that affects your mood making you depressed.
Some people are just insensitive and they don’t realise they hurt you. I used to pull on a long face and keep quiet when someone does something insensitive making other people think that I’m just too weird or there’s something wrong with me. Nowadays, I either express it out and tell them what I think or I just don’t bother to let them get to me. People will always have some nasty comment regardles of what you do. It’s like you do also wrong, don’t do also wrong; so who cares and just live life as you want it to be. If you have a strong will, you will choose to live and not commit suicide. Not everyone have strong will, which is why when you think you are unhappy, don’t let it drag on and become depression. Instead, train your mind to focus on something that matters to you and build something that you can be happy about on that. Let go of what makes you unhappy. I made my first snow angel that year and also build my first snowboy. I can’t call it snowman because it’s kind of small sized.
See how happy I look after playing with the snow ? If I can make myself happy, I don’t even need someone beside me to make me happy and that is why I know I can survive being alone. Better alone than to feel lonely being with someone.
Third Christmas in UK, it was more eventful. My sweet friend, Kristi, from Beijing, China invited me to her place for dinner during Christmas Eve. Her mother came to UK to stay with her for a few months and her mother decided to have steamboat or hotpot as they call it, for dinner.
They were in their pyjamas for this picture. Kristi is pretty when she puts on makeup and she is actually very stylish when she dresses up. She gave me my first Bourjois eye shadow for one of my birthdays. Bourjois is owned by Chanel and later acquired by Coty (which owns Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs – which is also another one of of my favourite brands, and a few more well-known brands). I have highly sensitive skin, which previously I had skin allergies on my lips and surprisingly Chanel is one of the brands whose lipsticks I can use without causing any allergies.
Kristi’s mother might look simple in the picture but when she dines and especially when she holds her soup bowl to drink, she blew me away with her grace and amazing dining etiquette. Instantly I knew that Kristi’s mother is of good background and is truly a lady because no one will be able to hold the Chinese soup bowl that way unless she has been groomed in dining etiquette. For western dining, it is impolite to lift up the soup bowl but for Chinese dining, the soup or rice bowl is lifted up in your hand while dining. I am impressed with Kristi’s mother. Both the mother and daughter speak in such slow, soft tones and ever so politely. People from Beijing are relatively well-off. Kristi’s mother gave me a pearl necklace and a decorative item which she brought from China during that Christmas Eve. So nice of her.
I also celebrated Christmas before Christmas Day at a Christmas party held for the residence I was staying at. I was involved in the organising of that party. For Christmas, I celebrated Christmas with my colleagues at our company’s Christmas party. My colleagues were fun and had a sense of humour. After the Christmas party dinner, everyone just left to go home. The party was held quite a distance from the city centre and it was a long ride home. No one invited each other to their home for after-party though. Apparently it is a social etiquette for the British to not invite anyone to their home unless it’s close friends or family because their home is their castle.
I have celebrated Christmas in Malaysia at Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Then Christmas at a few other places apart from Malaysia in countries where there’s no snow but has four seasons and also where it’s hot with tropical weather, with different people. No matter what, the best Christmas in my memory is still the one where I had all my family members at home celebrating together, where life was uncertain with new beginnings yet it was so full of hope. You can go all around the world and celebrate with different people but yet for me, the best has always been there and I had it all along since young.
My Grandma is no longer here and have passed away but if I can exchange the time I wasted with people who wouldn’t even matter at all now, and take those time to spend with my Grandma together with all my family members, I would. We can’t go back in time and I have trained myself so well to love being on my own, so much that sometimes I choose to be alone even if there are people around me. I don’t deny that I was angry with how those people have wasted my time and I am even more upset with myself for letting them do so. I move on and will not make the same mistake again. I cherish time more than ever. So for those of you who still have your grandmothers and parents around, cherish them and know that you have the best in your life there with you (provided you did not come from a broken family). Enjoy your Christmas.