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Christmas for me

December 17, 2009

Christmas passed every day like any other day for me when I was in Singapore.  When I was in the army, I’d volunteer for duty on that day and even for Chinese New Year.  No soldier would like to do duty on those days, I could release one soldier of his misery that way.  I remembered one year, before I was old enough to go to school, my aunt set up a Christmas tree.  But there was no religious connotation to it.  I don’t even remember presents beneath the tree.  Being an Ah Beng, my Christmas was what Orchard Road define it to be.  Commercialised.

But things started to bend slightly when I cam out of the Army.  For one, I was mesmerised by the Singing Christmas tree in St Theresa convent during an invited party of a Peranakan boy (Louis Goh).  I wanted to learn all the songs that I heard that night.  So I learned all the words of songs from "Hark, the Herald Angel Sing" to "O come all Ye Faithful".  I especially like "O Holy Night" but I could never memorise the Latin version.  But I did once memorise 3 stanzas (plus the last two lines) of the poem "Night before Christmas" also called "A Visit from St. Nicholas"by Clement Clarke Moore.  Now I could only say the first stanza.  By there was one year someone recited the civil war version and that made me cry.  I cried for the sacrifice the soldiers made so that normal civilians can have a "secure christmas".  I did my time in the Amry, never have to go to any war, but the feeling these soldiers go through was felt.

military santa

After NUS, my Christmas was in the North American continent.  Since then, every Christmas is white.  There is a smell in the air that is hard to describe.  It was calm.  It was bright.  Like in the song "Silent Night".  I was invited to various parties later.  From wild drinking parties to host family ones with turkey and mistletoe.  Year by year, I started to discover all the unChristmas things Americans and Canadians do.  In effect, there is spiritually no difference from what I know Christmas to be before my Army Days.  Their Xmas vs mine, I mean.  It’s amzing how everything is a circle.  It went one big round and come back to where it was originally.  Almost philosophically the same as what Shakyamuni would say.

Now I still love the Christmas carols.  I even did some intensive surveys amongst students on which carol is their favourite and which they could remember.  Result?  I could’ve asked them about songs in "Sounds of Music" and the statistical result would’ve made no difference.  For three years, I taught my kid the songs.  But now I stop.  I’ll just hum and it’s up to her to catch up or look up in the internet.


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