The Year-End Break
I had been on a writing break and was planning to be so till the New Year. However, I was compelled to write this post after a stressful weekend of Christmas tree-hunting had led to my reassessment of why I took a break to focus on the family and plan for the year-end festivities.
The impending year-end merry-making draws a myriad of reaction from my friends. Most tell me that the year-end festivities would usually bring home the importance of family and the special memories they shared with loved ones during the ubiquitious Christmas dinner. Some friends would tell me how disillusioned they were about the air of commercialism wafting through the malls at Christmas, with harried parents thronging Toys R’ Us in the hope of buying the latest Lego sets or yet another Princess Elsa doll. I even have friends who would buy the first flight out of Singapore, just to avoid the rainy season and the annoying throngs of shoppers crowding the malls and jamming the train lines.
My Magical Christmas Last Year
For me, the year-end festive season is always a celebration of family. Last year, as Dad was hit with a devastating Stroke just a week before Christmas, I learnt that the true magic of Christmas for me then was the power of prayers and the heartwarming love and support that surrounded my family and I at that very painful time. It was magic indeed because in spite of the Doctor’s earlier suggestion that Dad might be spending 2 weeks at the hospital, he actually managed to recover in time to be discharged on Christmas eve. I had the best Christmas Eve dinner then with Dad and the rest of the family surrounding him. Amazingly, he even managed a glass of merlot, held in his very frail hand, which he had used to wash his pills down with.
Reunion At Christmas Eve
This year, I had been planning a big Christmas Eve dinner for the family. My annual Christmas Eve dinner was always a gathering of family members who would come together to enjoy the yuletide feast. This year, it would be a reunion of sorts because my Aunt and Uncles who had been living overseas, in the US, Canada and Australia, are now back in Singapore to spend Christmas together as a family. This was a big deal for us. Moreover, this Christmas would mark one year of slow but steady recovery of my Dad from his Stroke. He may still be frail but he is mentally still quite alert and looks like he would be enjoying yet another glass or two of merlot at my Christmas Eve dinner.
A Perfect Christmas
I undertook to personally plan every detail of my Christmas Eve dinner. Everything had to be perfect including the food, the home, the decoration, and the tree. That became a problem. The perfectionist in me was turning this Christmas Eve dinner into a major headache for David and Joel. David wanted to roast the turkey and cook most of the dinner. I did not allow this because David’s culinary skills, beyond baking bread and making tea, was not that reliable. Joel volunteered to gather the Christmas playlist, but I refused to risk suicide attempts at our dinner party with Michael Buble crooning over the speakers.
Then came the Christmas tree. A beautiful noble fir was supposed to be the piece-de-resistance of my Christmas party.
The family spent the weekend criss-crossing the island just to look for a noble fir but the trees were sold out at every garden centre. Not even a pine needle could be found throughout the island. I went into near “melt-down” at the garden centre, revivable only with a cake and coffee over which David had a chat with me about my need to get a grip on my perfectionist mindset. He was right. Our Christmas Eve dinner need not be perfect. It was going to be wonderfully quirky, much like the Ash family.
First and foremost, it was a dinner party that celebrated life and resilience. We had imperfect moments when Dad's health caused us immense worry or when Granny could not remember what she ate an hour ago. However, Dad and Granny, in spite of their frailty, would not let recovery from stroke, or a touch of dementia stop them from celebrating family. They will be there to enjoy dinner with us and possibly more wine than they should. They might frown at my roast turkey, parsnips, brussel sprouts and potatoes and would possibly prefer a Chicken curry and stir fried noodles but I know they would be feeling so blessed just to be there, surrounded with family. I know Dad and Granny would feel even more blessed because it would be their cheat day, like it would be for me, and we are all going to have cake!
Secondly, it was a dinner that celebrated a united nations of cultures and races amongst family members who come from different countries like Scotland, America and China. It is not a perfect family. However, this eclectic mix of cultures and races, in our Singaporean home made for much livelier conversations.
Thirdly, it was a dinner party that celebrated new entrants into the family. 2 of my cousins got married recently so I have gained 2 rather handsome cousins-in-law. Ok, they are still wet behind the ears and have not been inducted into the family rules that the Eldest cousin is the "quasi-matriarch-empress-dowager" of the family and needs to be placated regularly with cake. They will learn.
Finally, our tree is not perfect. However, it really is a reflection of us – a quirky family, not too large, but not too small, weird in all sense of the word, but fun, easy-going and welcoming.
So this is my tree, the Ash family's Christmas tree for 2014. It is definitely us isn't it?
About The Writer
The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years. Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media. She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from www.singaporemaven.com. She is passionate about Muay Thai and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her. She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot. This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled “the bloke with ginger hair”.