New Year’s Days started to get lonely for me when I turned 13. By then the girl I had a crush on had already stopped talking to me, and my exposure to the opposite sex as I went through my first year in secondary school had made me a testosterone driven curious teenager eager to find out what it was like to fall in love.
But I grew up a nerd. Girls thought I had the makings of a good listening ear, but I wasn’t someone they would consider dating. You could say I was afflicted by the curse of the nice guy.
Of course, there’s always the family to fall back on during these times. My family would always join in the frenzy of jamming up the phone lines at the crack of midnight, in a contest to see who would be first to call each other up to usher in the New Year. And while the first 15 minutesof the new year would always put a smile on my face upon receiving and making these phone calls, it wears off rather quickly when you realize it had to be done over the phone for a reason. Being in junior college or university, my sisters were old enough and had adequate enough social standings to party (and party they did). My dad worked shifts at a private airport, and the holiday season would tend to be busy for him. And my mum, well, she’d be with me actually, waiting for the phone calls, and subsequently going to bed after her daily routine of taking care of me and the house.
And what of the boys I knew in school? Being a nerd, and constantly in the company of other nerds, they’d be with their mums too.
Kind of a loser life, come to think of it. I hope your New Year’s was never like mine, nor should it ever be.
Christmas in my household was, as my sister once put it, a sin. Mainly because we weren’t Christian in the first place, but if the government saw it fit to declare it a national holiday to be celebrated by all the country’s mish-mash of races and cultures, then why the hell not?
It was, and probably still is, the most wonderful part of the year for me. My mum would drag out our four-foot plastic pine tree a week or two before the actual day, and I would help with the ornaments. Then as the day draws near, presents would start appearing underneath the tree, and everyone would start speculating which present was for who.
My memories of the season was not of the day itself, nor of the preparations for the day, but of the nights when our living room was aglow with the multiple-colored blinking lights of the Christmas tree. My mum would leave the lights on throughout the day and night once the tree was set up, all the way till Boxing Day. It was the only time when I knew we were celebrating something.
And I remember we weren’t the only ones to have the Christmas tree light-up tradition. Looking out of my bedroom window in the evening, I would see scattered households in the opposite blocks with their living rooms glowing in the same multicolored blinking lights.
Christmases then were a family affair first and foremost, and a community affair in general, as everyone acknowledged each other warmly with season’s greetings and often exchange small gifts and bowls, casseroles or pots of home-cooked food, from curries to agar-agar, fried chicken wings to fruits. We were in a good neighborhood, and the families we lived with were always friendly and warm. Our Christmases would be a testament to that.
But nobody does that any more.