Come December, many of us around the world celebrate Christmas, or at the very least acknowledge this festive occasion one way or another. This includes my Chinese-Malaysian family for as long as I can remember.
No one in my immediate Asian family goes to church or follows the faith Christianity. We’ve never put up a Christmas tree at home. Never went caroling. But when I was a kid growing up in Australia, my parents wrapped presents for me and my brother in the lead up to Christmas day. They did pretty much the same when we later lived in Malaysia and Singapore – among other things too around this time of the year.
Not all of us commemorate the history behind Christmas or the birth of Jesus Christ but still get into the spirit of this season. Different cultures around the world have different ways of celebrating or spending it, or even similar ways of celebrating.
When we were young, maybe we were forced to travel, travel for a better life and a better education. Growing up, I moved quite a bit: Melbourne to Malaysia to Singapore and back to Melbourne. My parents wanted to work in Asia, and so little me was dragged along with them.
Last Saturday afternoon, I was wandering around Federation Square. All of a sudden, about thirty people swarmed around me. I looked around and realised they were being herded by a tour guide in a bright green T-shirt.
“So, this is Federation Square,” announced the guide. “It was voted as one of the ugliest buildings in the world in 2012. An eyesore.”
This has always baffled me. Numerous times I’ve went down to St Kilda beach on 30-degree days decked out in a loose-fitting white T-shirt and shorts. After ten minutes or so of strolling on the sand under the cloudless sky, beads of sweat scramble to form on my forehead and back.