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.