Christmas Party

To be honest, I don’t feel the festive mood this year. I suppose I have outgrown the stage in my life where it was fun and cool to go for Christmas countdown. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine why it would be fun to be crushed by thousands of people, only to stand miles away from centre stage and realise that countdown was over ten seconds ago — not to mention the mad rush for public transport when the party is over.

Being a pragmatic person, Christmas is nothing more than another public holiday to rest and relax; it is also an excellent time to meet up with old friends. I have celebrated virtually all my Christmas since my secondary school days with my basketball kakis, aka the Locusts, less my four-year exile in Canada. It only seemed fitting that I mark my return to Singapore by celebrating Christmas with them.

Chee Kong managed to get hold of a chalet room at Downtown East through his mother, and words were sent out to everyone to get together for a night of fun, joy and laughter. Things have really changed since I last visited the place. It is like a mini shopping mall inside, complete with a Guardian pharmacy, a Cheers supermarket and a World of Sports retail outlet.

Being born on Christmas has its advantage and disadvantage. People tend to remember your birthday, and assuming that you’re not a loner, you’ll always celebrate your birthday with family and friends; on the flipside, you’ll only receive presents once a year. Shunrong has the good fortune to share the birthday with Jesus Christ, and this year we bought him an ice cream cake from Swensens. To save the hassle — and money — we decided to celebrate the birthdays of Chee Kong and Reynold too, who are born in the months of December and January respectively.

A congregation of the Locusts usually mean one of two things — sometimes both — basketball and gambling. Since Downtown East does not have mahjong tables for rent, we had to settle for card games. Being inexperienced poker players, cash was quickly changing hands with no strategy to speak of; it was not surprising that we later switched to the simpler game of Black Jack. Before you label us as compulsive gamblers, let me explain the benefits of gambling with real money. Now that we are all working adults, we are no longer motivated to gamble so as to earn a quick buck or two. Rather, people tend to be more responsible — which is especially important in sequential games like mahjong and Black Jack — and it is undoubtedly more exciting when money is involved.

To some people, this might not be the killer Christmas party that would be the latest talk in town. But as always, it is not the location nor the food nor the music that makes a party fun; it is the people that make all the difference.

And I am very fortunate to have such great friends.

26 December 2005 · My Life

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