Old to New Year

Designer Gingerbread men and women!
Hollywood gave us, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” but for me, the final few days of 2011 rolling into 2012 is something I call, “Christmas, an Op, a Funeral and a Wedding!”  It was an eventful few days, filled with a mix of joy and sorrow as my family and I were involved with a series of happenings, both planned and unexpected. 

On 23 December, we received sad news that Auntie Gloria, dad’s former colleague and a dear family friend, had passed away after a long illness.  For as long as I can remember, Auntie has always been on dad’s Christmas card mailing list.  Her funeral was arranged for 27 December to give time for her family members abroad to return.  [Flights were fully booked in the peak holiday season.]  While her wake services were planned for 25 & 26 December, we did not hesitate to go to be with the bereaved family that night. 

Little Suzanna
At church on Christmas morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see Benoy and meet his family who were visiting from the US.  How Time has flown!  It was overwhelming yet wonderful to see him with his wife, Rose, and children Noah and Suzanna.  That’s because my memories of him was of a mischievous boy who came to join our Daily Vacation Bible School, so many years ago… and now he’s a father of two children! 

The Christmas story in song was beautifully presented once again in a cantata entitled, “Come, Celebrate Jesus!”  I say “once again” because this powerful 50-minute cantata by Don Marsh and Claire Cloninger was performed again by a new generation of talented singers.  It felt strangely nostalgic as I watched and sang along with the familiar lyrics because I was part of the original choir who first performed it. 

Singing Christmas cantata, "Come celebrate Jesus"
“Peasants and kings went on their way with wonder in their eyes – For wise men were made humble and humble men were made wise,” the truth in this refrain rang out clearly and still remains relevant today. 

All the hard practicing months ahead was well worth the effort as the beautiful singing, first as a group and in solo parts and duets, held the audience’s rapt attention.  I may be biased but I think Brendon my youngest nephew, gave a very commendable solo performance! 

Meaningful message written inside gift from Emily
Jesus is indeed the reason why we celebrate this season and He remains central in our celebration, beginning with home-to-home caroling on Christmas Eve, then a morning service on Christmas day, followed by buffet lunch and later, a family celebration at home that evening. 

As we acknowledge Jesus Christ as God’s greatest gift to us, we also enjoy a tradition of gift-giving at Christmas.  This year was no different as members of our church family came armed with bags/baskets full of gifts for everyone. 

“Open it now!” urged Flo as soon as she presented me with her gift.  I quickly oblige and peeled open the pretty wrapping paper from that square flat package.  She watched me intently as I read the CD title and let out quite an unladylike but grateful howl of joy.  My ecstatic reaction was just what she was waiting for.  Her thoughtful gift of a rare collection of music by one of my favourite artistes was certainly appreciated!

Emily in the hospital, with her parents
Later when Ruby my sister, gave me her gift, she too insisted that I open it right away.  As I carefully opened that bulky package, I was totally unprepared for what greeted my eyes.  Once again, the celebration was interrupted by my squeal of surprise when I saw that it was a hardcover biography of that same favourite music artiste! 

From books, toiletries, accessories, games and garments to music CD’s, I received my fair share of thoughtful and useful gifts.  Someone gave me home-made cookies that I think tasted very special because they were made with that extra ingredient – love!  Even as I know it’s the thought that counts, there’s something very special about well-thought out gifts that are not only appropriate but appreciated by the recipient. 

Emily had to quickly shift gears to move from Christmas celebrations to her admission into hospital for a scheduled tonsillectomy on 27 December.  That same morning, my family and I were at Auntie Gloria’s lovely Sending-Off service and I was encouraged to read scripture on the handout quoted from II Timothy 4 verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  As the service and eulogies were shared through Skype technology with her family members abroad, I privately thought that when my time comes, I too would like to be described as, “Finishing Well”

Handout for the Sending-Off service
That evening, I was glad to see Emily come out from her drowsy after-surgery sleep.  I can identify with her misery because many years ago, I too underwent a tonsillectomy.  Even while she wanted to share all the details, it was quite impossible for her to speak so I gave her my pen to write out her part of our conversation. 

As dinner was served, we discovered that the hospital does not provide her much-longed-for ice-cream to soothe her painful throat.  They only have jelly but since they took too long to serve it, I bought her the next best thing – chilled mango yoghurt and mixed fruit yoghurt drink!

Christmas and New Year also means parties and celebrations so it was my pleasure to accept Gerard’s invitation to join his family for a poolside party.  It was lovely to meet his mother, relatives and many familiar faces but what I found amusing was how the waiters from their caterer recognized me because I recently did a food review at their restaurant! 

With Reane [Left] and Shanin [Right] at the party
Two little girls sat near me and as soon as they finished eating, were preoccupied with playing games on their mum’s I-pad.  In the course of conversation, they were thrilled to discover that I was formerly from their school, Convent JB.  So I encouraged them to read my school stories from my blog and the older sister, Reane, 11, deftly opened to the pages to scan my stories and photos.

“Can you put us in your blog?” Shanin, 9, boldly asked and I replied with a question – asking her to tell me something interesting about herself.  A lively chat ensued as the girls were delighted with what they saw on my blog.  Later, their mum told me that nobody could distract them from their games or engage them in a conversation but…

With James & Agathe Wang at their reception
On 1 January 2012, celebrations continued as our family were in Kuala Lumpur to attend the wedding reception for James and Agathe.  They were married last September in France but were back to host a reception for family and friends here. 

In the past week, while the couple took their French in-laws on a tour of Penang, Cameron Highlands and Malacca, they stayed in touch with me through email.  That’s because I was their Master of Ceremony and needed to discuss the event programme and find out more juicy details of their love story!  It’s my privilege to be part of their celebration and I’m glad everyone had a lovely and memorable time.

Whew!  What an eventful few days, aptly summed up in, “Christmas, an Op, a Funeral and a Wedding!”  I will be glad when the days return into its normal routine but not yet.  There are still more celebrations and dinners lined up for birthdays and the coming Chinese New Year! 



  1. Anonymous1/06/2012

    WOW !!! indeed hebat and changgih.. well done Peggy.. keep it up. looking forward for more interesting and inspiring writings. Indeed the art of writing is very much alive haha the pen is mightier than the sword.

  2. Heartwarming.. :)