Christmas Eve was spent at a Japanese restaurant with a mass of relatives taking up 4 tables. It was the first time we saw the Ls and at first it felt like an us and them - but soon I was joking around and experiencing one of the reasons I love coming to Malaysia once again. I ate my heart out and joked about being pregnant, which I feel happens way too often nowadays, and we went up to the rooftop where we stood on a glass floor at least 5 stories up, looked over the skyline, and it was hot and sweaty and we took a very many oily faced photos.
I feel like the Grinch in the sense that I keep getting annoyed at all the Christmas songs on the radio and all those seasonal posts. But then, I also feel like some kind of deluded elf, sending out Christmas messages to almost everybody and being overly excited for present-opening. This year I seem to be more excited about watching my present recipients than actually opening my own presents - which can only be a good thing.
I love how I never stress about Christmas because I know I'll be with my family and they'll be with me.
Something I've noticed about this side of the family, consisting of grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins who altogether add up to around 15 people, is that it's overly inclusive. We can't even trek through the rainforest without taking my grandma along. If one person is missing from one of our many group photos at un-airconditioned Chinese restaurants we have to retake the photo. It's just so different from any other group I've ever experienced being a part of. We didn't choose each other but we were born into this group, and because of that we will always be connected no matter what happens. I will always have someone to spend Christmas with no matter what happens. They will always love me even if no one else will, and that makes me feel content.
The other day I was joking to my mum about some article I saw in her Women's Weekly magazine titled, "How to Avoid Disappointment on Christmas Day," to which she replied that according to statistics most suicides happen during this holiday period. It's because the expectation is that you spend Christmas with other people, specifically family, and when you're alone you're reminded of how lonely you are.
In some ways I feel incredibly smug that I have many someones to spend this day with, and I feel reassured that of all the annual celebrations I'm doing this one right. On the other hand though, I can't imagine how it must feel sitting in a room all alone, reminded that you have absolutely no one. I can't imagine what it would be like having absolutely no one, period. And I'm scared that one day I might be on the wrong side of the world and I might have no one where I am, and then I really would be alone. I don't want Christmas to become like my birthday: a day with a buildup of psyching myself up for disappointment.
I reckon being utterly alone is the most terrible way one could live.
On Christmas morning we followed my aunty and cousin to church, and while my dad is catholic, the rest of us don't really identify as anything - hence why we never take the bread at communion. I do reckon it's arrogant for us to believe there is no form of higher being though, so I guess in that sense I do believe in God.
The Priest said something about how the point of buying presents isn't about giving a person exactly what they want, seeing as they're able to buy it for themselves if they really want it, but it's more about the idea that it's something from you. It's the idea that you care enough about them to give them a gift. I know I feel amazing whenever a friend gets me something - and I love whatever they gave me simply because it's from them.
The Church was filled with the singing and instinctive responses of a huge community of people from the same sector of the same city. Although I may have found the allegations towards our obligation to completely worship the Lord a bit extreme, what matters is that this religion brings people together so that they are never really alone on Christmas day. In the same way, believing that this day serves a higher purpose, and that a higher being is always with us, can make people feel less alone.
I actually genuinely reckon you can't be truly alone on Christmas day. The people of this world are generally inclusive, and even if you don't have a built in family, there are always places you can go. There will always be some open community to join or some other lonely soul out there. And anyway, other people's happiness shouldn't remind you of your sadness. Just rejoice in the fact that most of the world is rejoicing too.