To me, there is something almost magical about Christmas. This started especially so as a child where I will watch some heart warming stories from the TV, while mom will cook something special. As the years rode on, the magnificent decors further brings about a joyous festive mood amongst celebrants and non-celebrants alike.
But as the years come and go, I’ve also seen the suffering from those around me.
I remember when I was about 8 or 9, one of my neighbour passed away from cervical cancer around XMas time. I remembered watching the TV with shows on the XMas themes while my parents attended the funeral.
There’s this elderly lady who stayed near my area- she’s very lonely after her husband of many years passed away. She used to sit on the swing outside her house watching passerbys coming and going. Her children are all grown up and is now overseas but she did not want to follow them because she does not want to burden them.
Many people, especially foreign workers come to work in our country and you can see them spending their only day off taking buses and walking around aimlessly to towns. Foreign workers are also human and like us, they have feelings and miss their homes terribly.
Which reminds me of a real story that my friend told me (not sure if have posted this in earlier blogs). Her husband had engaged a couple of Indonesian workers to do some renovations in their home. As it was the Muslim fasting month, her husband bought the workers some ayam percik (speciality grilled chicken originating from East Coast). She told me that her husband was shocked to see that all they are eating is white rice- and they each at the chicken drumstick sparingly, dividing it into a few portions for a few days. If her husband had not bought them the chicken, they will just eat white rice. As my friend is also in the construction industry, she told me that sometimes, these foreign workers literally survive from hand to mouth.
Some bosses also treat them very badly. Most of the time, they do not know when their next meal will come from. That’s why sometimes they had no choice but to resort to petty crimes in order to survive. For residents, we have no problem in getting a job- as long as we are not picky. But for them, they can’t even land themselves on a job.
Last year on XMas eve, I wrapped some mini hampers consisting of sweets and chocolates and brought them to the general hospital. I started distributing the little gifts at the third class cancer ward. While most patients had visitors, some dying patients had no one. They were too sick and in too much suffering to notice their surroundings. There was patients sitting by themselves, and probably had no one to visit them for a long time. I remembered there was a separate room and I heard a patient wailing in pain. This made me feel sad.
During this festive session, in the midst of our joy, dinners, parties and celebrations, let us not forget those who are alone or grieving. Why not, we extend little acts of kindness to those who are less fortunate.