2 January 2008

My Christmas Activities

I've been pretty occupied during this festive season. And I'm quite glad that time was actually spent on purposeful activities.

Friday evening, I met up with Martin and Justin for their company's Social Night.

Saturday was spent at Zexian's place with my church cell group.

On Sunday, I accompanied Miaozhen to attend church service and attended a Christmas Musical with the Girlfriend at her church.

Monday was a Christmas potluck in office, followed by a gathering at Lionel's place. Then I went over to Orchard Road to observe how the mess builds up and how the contracted cleaners clear up the place.

Tuesday, I attended the service at the Girlfriend's church and then yet another potluck at Peter's place in Sengkang.


Right after work, I went over to The Grassroots Club near Yio Chu Kang MRT to attend Justin and Martin's Social Night for their company. The newbies of the company had organized the event to a nerdy theme and sportingly performed a very nerdy and rather gay dance.

It is really something to see a the company's culture develop as the company progresses forward and it definitely reminded me very much of the times in SP Rovers. Perhaps to appropriately put it, having fun is serious business for them. And through fun, Cheers Connect International has slowly and surely established itself as an events organizer for schools and corporates, impacting the lives of the participants.

They ended with a mass dance which literally rocked the place. And after, they jested that the grassroots club probably wouldn't want to host them in the same venue any more.


Zexian had offered to open up his place for us to invite friends over for a Christmas dinner. I had arrived earlier to set up my new toy, the Nintendo Wii for early birds to try out. But since everyone was busy with the preparation of the food, I left the console to help in the kitchen. I had invited Carol, who used to be my insurance agent financial advisor while she was at Prudential. It took a few SMSes to persuade her to come as she had informed me previously that she met with an accident and had to undergo operation. Plus she lamented that she "wasn't the same as before" and that she "looked like an alien". I thought she lost a limb or got disfigured or something. I encouraged that she needed to come out a bit and enjoy herself to 'work' on her recovery, not knowing what really happened to her. It was only when she arrived that I realized that it was just a broken arm that would heal in time. Of course I'm sure it hurts tremendously, but I'm glad that she wasn't missing any body part. In fact, she had screws added to reconstruct her elbow, so she sort of a bionic woman now. :p

To start the ball rolling, the guests participated in a few ice breaking games before breaking for the meal. Kendice had single-handedly planned and prepared the spread including chicken stew, fruit salad, soba salad, pasta salad and roast beef to feed about 20 people. Once we were full, Zexian led everyone to sing Christmas carols. After cleaning up, we decided to turn on the Wii to help burn a few calories.

Seriously, the console is perfect for such group gatherings because people wave the Wiimotes silly as they immerse themselves in wacky games like Raving Rabbids and Wario Ware Smooth Moves. It is a pity I didn't record the madness in video.

It was nice that everybody enjoyed themselves that night. I thought the gathering was a glimpse of how Christmas was meant to be, to bring joy and laughter and to remind everybody that there is love in this world.

Taking attendance for the Christmas Dinner


I had also wanted to invite Miaozhen to the Christmas dinner on Saturday. But she wasn't available. Yet amazingly, she asked if there was any Christmas service on Christmas Day at my church. There wasn't one on Christmas Day, but we did have one on the Sunday just before. So she came. It definitely caught me by surprise.

One question that the pastor asked was about the impact and change God had in our own lives and wanted a show of hands. Seeing that I didn't respond to that, Miaozhen turned to give me an expectant look, asking, "Why you never raise your hand?"

The knee-jerk reaction was to raise my hand, but I added sarcastically, "I was just being modest. Or were you referring to my expanding waistline?"

Miaozhen went on to discuss this topic with Kendice and she also agreed that I'm different from last time. But really, I dunno lah. I got different meh?

Anyway, Miaozhen and I boarded the train to return home where we talked about old times at Rovers, catching up with internal gossip which I shall not discuss here.

We parted and went our separate ways. I went on to meet up with the girlfriend to go to a Christmas Musical at her church.

In 2006, the youth group at her church performed an entertaining skit for the congregation, which probably got a very good response. So this time round, they put up a new "production" titled "Prodigal", which talks about Luke 15:11-32 with a modern twist.

The story was about an adopted son who ran off to pursue his music career with his band. After the band made it big, the son squandered his success and lost his music career and ended up at an orphanage as a janitor. In a very convenient twist, (probably because the scriptwriter didn't want to go into details) the people running the orphanage set up a Christmas dinner at their place so that the adoptive father and the son can reunite.


It was a half day at office which we used for an office potluck. Thereafter, the girlfriend and I went to Lionel's place for yet another Christmas dinner. After that, I accompanied the girlfriend to Clarke Quay for her to meet up with her friends while I went over to Orchard Road to meet up with Zengrong. We were there to observe how the rubbish pile up and how it is cleared up before the following morning.

It was Christmas eve and people were out on Orchard Road soaking up the Christmas season. Many were armed with snow and streamer sprays as they walked down the streets waiting for the strike of midnight. Minutes before midnight, the anticipated spray war sparked off. Within moments the people involved were covered in the white foam that came from the snow spray. People literally grabbed their friends and sprayed direct into the faces.

The madness on the street continued for about 2 hours before all the spray cans have been depleted. It was then time for us to move out. The original plan was only for us to observe and photograph the litter situation on the street, but we ended up being part of the clean up team clearing up the mess but it was alright either way. Each equipped with trash bags, tongs and gloves ready for picking rubbish, moved out to different sectors in Orchard Road to clear up the place. For me, I also had a camera slung around my neck.

A few of us started off from Shaw Centre (Lido) towards the Thai Embassy. The litter along that stretch seemed manageable, except for some areas where there trash was a little out of reach.

Picking rubbish from out of reach places

When we returned to Shaw Centre, we saw the litter that was strewn among the plants just behind the seating area.

more trash

What's really interesting is that cleaning up Orchard Road is a territorial affair. According to the supervisor, the contracted cleaners didn't need to clear them as they fell into the building's area and thus not the cleaners' responsibility. So left the litter as it is and moved on to Marriot and CK Tangs.

The spray can wars apparently had not ended as people were still at it.

Snow warsSnow warsSnow wars

On our side of the street, we came across this:

So we proceeded to clear up as much of the trash as we could which consists mainly of empty spray cans. As I collected the cans, the smell also built up. And it was a terrible smell which led me to wonder if it the contents of the spray cans have any impact on the human body.

Another consideration that surfaced during this little project is how we can prevent litter from being thrown into the planted beds. This is because the litter usually get trapped deep inside the plants, making it difficult for cleaners to clear the litter among the plants.

It is ironic that while Singapore likes to beat our chest about being a clean place due to its successful anti-littering campaigns and laws when the real credit goes to the cleaners who go about unnoticed to clean up the place.

What's really amazing is that by morning, the whole place is all cleaned up and ready to project the image of Singapore as a garden city. I also have a new found respect for the people who made it happen within a matter of hours.

I guess the main takeaway thought from this project is a question how each individual can be hard-wired to do their own part to keep the place clean even in the perceived fun and madness.

More photos of this project is available at Zengrong's flickr account.

Tuesday - Christmas Day

I struggled to get up in the morning to attend the Christmas service at the girlfriend's church. Thereafter we went home to rest. I then went off to Seng Kang to attend another Christmas dinner at Peter's place and to catch up with some old friends from Rovers.

Looking back, I've got to say that this is one of the best Christmas seasons I've had. I liked it for being something simple and personal. A time for friends to get reacquainted to each other over a meal or an activity. A time to catch up on things we had missed in our friends' lives. A time to laugh and celebrate simple things in life and to really show that we care for each other.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, I know I did.

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