It’s the thought that counts, not how big your present is

On air: Li’l Kev (left) and Teo both have their own approaches to celebrating Christmas with their families, especially when considering some deejays still go on air during the festive holiday

WITH Christmas just around the corner and the New Year not too far away, several Star RFM deejays tell StarMetro on what Christmas means to them, and what are some of their best memories of the season.

On the subject of gifts, veteran radio personality Li’l Kev says it may sound cheesy, but the best gifts are the ones that mean something to both the giver and the receiver.

“I am big into recycling nowadays.

“People give me stuff that I do not need. And I recycle them by giving them to others who really do not need them either,” joked the one-half of Red FM’s All New Red Breakfast.

“But seriously, whenever I buy gifts for people these days, I always think long and hard on whether the item I have in mind is something I already love, and it is so hard to part with.”

There was one time when he was short on cash to buy presents for his loved ones. So, he went through the old photographs of his wife’s family and some of his own, and using his Photoshop skills, scanned and compiled the pictures into an album as a present for his in-laws.

“The first page was a picture of my wife as a little girl, as well as other pictures of my in-laws as they progressed through the years, and the last picture was of course, their son-in-law,” said Li’l Kev.

“It brought tears to their eyes when they opened it, and I guess my stock with my in-laws rose considerably after that,” he jokingly added.

Fellow Red FM deejay Linora Low related how she cajoled and berated her younger siblings into performing a song Perfect Fan by the Backstreet Boys for their parents.

“It was the most personal present I had ever given. It was the first time I ever played and sang for the family. I bugged my siblings to practise with me and it was a good bonding experience with them as well,” said Low.

Li’l Kev and Low’s counterparts in Capital FM, also had interesting ideas on gifts for Christmas.

Priscillia Seelan, who hosts Capital FM’s late-night Groove-down, said she and her family were not really “big” on gifts these days.

“What we do nowadays is that we buy books for underprivileged children at the welfare homes and orphanages.

“I think it is important that we let kids be kids. Sometimes we also buy some toys and games for them. But personally I prefer getting books,” said Priscillia.

As for gifts received, perhaps the one that touched her most was an early Yuletide present.

A friend, knowing Priscillia’s love of travel, took her on an all-expenses paid trip from London, where Priscillia was staying, to Amsterdam.

“It was most unexpected and very sweet, and that made me realise how much I meant to her,” she reminisced.

Xandria Ooi, who co-hosts Capital FM’s breakfast segment “Talk of the Town”, said as a child, her parents always took the trouble to make Christmas special, by playing Santa Claus and wrapping presents.

“To me, Christmas always has its magic, even as a kid. I totally bought into the Santa Claus myth, as he (actually my parents) sent me a card. One year I had this card saying that I was too old for presents and other children needed them,” Ooi laughed.

One thing Ooi never experienced as a child during Christmas though, was a Christmas tree, something many households who celebrate Christmas take for granted.

“It is somewhat different now, celebrating Christmas as a single person and with your spouse. For our first year as a married couple, my husband realised how much I wanted a Christmas tree. So last year, we set up our first Christmas tree together and decorated it,” said Ooi.

Li’l Kev recounted a family tradition where after attending the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, his family would retire back home to have a very late, or early, Christmas dinner.

“My father, who passed away five years back, would bring the gifts and call out each child’s name and tell us which relative had given us the gift.

“It is a tradition I try to continue with my family,” said Li’l Kev.

Similarly, Terry Ong, who co-hosts the Red Fix from 4pm to 6pm with Azura, tries to keep up certain family traditions and has made new ones, even though both his parents have passed on.

“I am from Penang and although I reside in the Klang Valley, I always keep a tree set up in my Kuala Lumpur residence. These days, my relatives will visit my parents’ graves before Christmas,” said Ong.

Deejaying, or even hosting events during the festive holidays, is sometimes unavoidable and the deejays interviewed take this disruption to family celebrations in stride.

“It is somewhat unavoidable having to work on Christmas.

“But there was one time I managed to get my parents down to watch my event on Christmas.

“It was great fun for both of us, to know that my parents were in the crowd watching me host, and they could see how I did my job,” said Low.

Jeremy Teo on the Red Hub, said that it was best to treasure the time one got to spend with them, before getting on with the job.

“It is something you have to accept and adapt. Whatever time I have, I spend it as best I can with my family because Christmas is about getting together with your loved ones. Then resume work and look forward to the end of your stint on that day,” said Teo.

It can also be hard when one is separated from the family on Christmas Day, as Priscillia recounts another experience working as a radio announcer in London while her family was back in Malaysia.

“Christmas can be hard when you do not have your loved ones with you to celebrate. So I went down to volunteer at a nearby homeless shelter, and for most of the residents at the shelter, what they really wanted and needed was someone to talk to,” said Prisicillia.

“When one of them said to me that I was pretty selfless for coming to volunteer on Christmas Eve, it just made me realise how much we have and how much we should be thankful for,” she concluded.

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