Thursday, 25 December 2008

Lighting Up Christmas

By a conservative estimate probably 70%+ of Singaporeans awoke today with the thought of celebrating the trappings of Xmas - the unwrapping of gifts, the wails of excited children grazing their knees as they fell of new bikes and for the more religious who celebrate the festival, a visit to the nearest church.

Most of all Christmas is a time for children. My mother was English and I recall many pleasurable Xmas mornings checking out the 'stocking' at the end of the bed, in the wee hours of the morning after Santa had paid a visit. There was always an orange right at the toe of the sock and this was followed by small gifts & sticky toffees.

Infrequently a larger item was to be found in the bedroom - my first tricycle arrived in this fashion. Usually though the larger and family gifts were to be found at the base of the Xmas tree in the lounge. No artificial plastic varieties of tree here.

We always had a real tree as did everyone else in our small Taranaki town. We lived at 90 Browne Street in Waitara and the pungent of a pine still reminds me of those days and the time we took prior to Xmas in decorating the tree.

Here in Singapore there are others of different faiths, to whom this day means very little in a religious sense. It is they who man the shopping malls and food courts.

Finally there are people like myself who awoke to a full menu of spring cleaning duties scheduled in advance by my wife, which included the cleaning of lounge lights and fittings and pondering over the reasons as to why a replacement fluorescent tube was failing to illuminate?

Banal as it seems there is some satisfaction in getting these domestic chores out of the way before taking the free bus to Anchorage shopping centre for a Xmas lunch. For the past two years (as I have previously recorded in this epistle) we frequented the Xmas buffet at Le Meridien Hotel.

Two things have happened in the intervening twelve months. The hotel has been bought and renamed and we weighed up the cost of this repast and decided for the money we could do better. I used to be a fan of the esteemed Singapore buffet but no longer. This style of eating encourages gluttony and I need no encouragement at all!

So early afternoon we tucked into a meal of turkey at Jacks Place, doffed out glittery party hats to all assembled and departed to Dawsons shopping centre to pick up replacement light tubes.

This is the joy of Singapore, the shops never close and it is always possible to pick up such commodities as and when one requires them.

The rest of the afternoon has been spent loading up my new work laptop with files required for my travel to Hong Kong and trying to get my large spatulate fingers accustomed to the very small and textured mouse button that is hiding itself quite successfully in the centre of the keyboard.

Already the local supermarkets are getting prepared for the really big celebration that happens in a month's time - Chinese New Year. The festival this year will celebrate the Year of the Ox. As I sit trying to digest today's Xmas meal I feel an affinity with the oxen in question.

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