I can still vividly remember standing in front of the small Christmas tree with blinking lights. My mum brought us along to visit a Catholic family during Christmas time. As we were about to leave the home, we were asked to pick up a present from a pile stacked up at the foot of the tree. It was all very strange and new. The first impression I had was that Christmas was about love, home and giving.
When I later became a Christian at 13, I was immediately plunged into the life and activities of the church. And yes, I simply love Christmas. Street and house carolling by candle lights was an in-thing then. We would move around in a bus and alight a slight distance and start singing as we walked slowly to the home that had invited us. We filled the neighbourhood with carols. And as far as I can remember, I have never missed a Christmas Eve Service. I can hardly remember those Christmas sermons. Somehow those carols were almost sermons in themselves and sung year after year, their appeal and message never diminished for me.
My experience of Christmas changed when I first came to Singapore for my studies. I was away from my home and all my closest friends from my home church. Standing alone one evening and hearing Bing Crosby croon “I’ll be home for Christmas” with blinking ferry lights synced to it, I realised that it is hard to celebrate Christmas without family and close friends.
This should not come as a surprise as the first Christmas was about a family of three. Jesus was not born to an unknown family and thereafter appeared to the world as a hermit. He came to them as a child and a son - with a family in tow - before they knew Him as the Son. Christmas was about family. And still is.
As a foreigner, again it was another church, an Anglican one who became a home and family for me. Yes, I have many warm and wonderful memories of Christmas in SJSM during the late 80’s. By then, street carolling was less in vogue. There were Christmas musicals and performances on Orchard Road and in shopping centres.
One should never underestimate the power of culture, especially one that is carried in carols, images of the manger and that of a baby held in the arms of his mother. Many in the world can connect well with these. Love, home and giving - how could anyone disagree with that?
This is why the Cathedral does her best every year during Christmas time to open up to the city through our Christmas@Cathedral (C@C) activities. Note some highlights:
- The official opening will be on Thursday at 6 pm, after which we will have fun together at the Christmas Zumba workout. The clergy and pastors will be leading the pack!
- This year’s C@C will include stalls selling arts and crafts, food, drinks etc.
- Also new is the Art Jam, where you can try your hand at canvas and candle painting, piano-playing etc.
- There will be quiet performances at the Nave, which will be bathed in special lights while the evening tours are going on.
- Families and children will have special activities geared for the young at the Kids’ Carnival.
- The larger performances will be held at the constructed stage.
- There are also lunch-time performances at the Cafe.
- Opportunities for conversations and prayers will be offered.
We have many who will be away from home this Christmas. Be with the Cathedral family this Christmas and help us reach someone.