FOR many Malaysians, going to the shopping mall to soak in the festive atmosphere is a must.
And despite the pandemic, this Christmas can still be meaningful, as many try to keep up with traditions and merry making while following the new normal.
Some shoppers, when met in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, say they love this time of year for the ambience in malls.
Fashion blogger Yong Choy Peng, 43, says if she didn’t go to the mall, it would feel like she was missing something.
“For me, my favourite mall to visit during Christmas is Pavilion KL, as I feel they set the benchmark for such decorations and always do something unique.
“I have been coming here every year since 2015 as the decorations are always so jaw-dropping and gorgeous, ” she says, adding that her favourite was the Christmas theme in 2016 which featured a festive merry go round by an upscale crystal jewellery chain.
Yong says such decorations truly set people in the right mood for Christmas and not only allow people to capture photographs of the beautiful settings, but also capture their hearts too.
This year, there will be fewer face-to-face meetings with friends for her, but it will not stop her from going to the mall to enjoy the vibrant settings.
“My wish is for the pandemic to be over soon so that people will be able to do things like shop more freely. And hopefully, the economy can recover and grow stronger, ” Yong says.
Some even make going to the mall a tradition, like Lydia Lai Zhi Xian, 25, who meets up with her secondary school friends in Pavilion KL every year – something they have been doing for the past seven years.
“I treasure my friendships very much, and this mall has witnessed our bond.
“We always have our reunions here during Christmas since we left school, ” says Lai, who works in the public relations industry.
She says Christmas mall decorations have always made her feel warm inside and it is especially joyous when she and her friends exchange gifts.
However, it will be slightly different this year – with the current pandemic, some of her friends who are working abroad are unable to fly home and they are not able to hold a physical gathering.
“We may have a video call instead, as we have been keeping in touch like this throughout the movement control order (MCO), ” she says.
Nevertheless, Lai says she is grateful for all her blessings for this year despite the challenging times.
“Christmas is a time when we reflect and take stock of our lives.
“Covid-19 has left many struggling in the wake of its impact, and my hope is for things to get better for everyone, ” she says.
She also hopes the borders will open soon so that she can finally reunite with her friends in 2021.
Mother of three, Vivian Foo Geik Lian, 41, says malls help add to the festive mood during celebrations and even helped to cheer up her family members.
Three years ago, her father was diagnosed with stage four cancer and things felt bleak at home.
To take a break, Foo and her family, who stay in Puchong, then decided to go to Pavilion KL since her children have not been there before.
“My children were very impressed by the decorations and even asked me if we were still in Malaysia, ” she recalls.
Foo says her 17-year-old son, who has autism, was also surprisingly calm as he usually does not like noisy or crowded places.
“He was in a joyful mood as he was mesmerised by the decorations, which featured a hot air balloon and shiny golden decorations that year, ” she adds.
For this year, Foo says it has been tough as her husband’s business was affected while her children‘s routines were derailed, especially for her son.
“As a mother, I took on everyone’s burden on myself and tried to make the best of this pandemic, ” she says, adding that the family will spend Christmas at home this year.
Foo says while it will be different this time, compared to other years when the family would go for trips, she will try to make the celebration as normal as possible.
“We will still follow traditions like exchanging presents, having a nice family dinner and reflecting on our year.
“I’m also encouraging my son to use video calls to keep in touch with his friends in our support group for special needs children, ” she adds.
Homemaker and mother of two, Jessica Soo, 52, says her family members are regular visitors of Pavilion KL ever since it opened over a decade ago as they live nearby.
“My children enjoy the Christmas decorations especially in 2018, with the Christmas tree made out of 1,000 Mickey Mouse figurines, ” she reminisces.
Soo says there will be no large gatherings for Christmas this time, but nothing will change the spirit of giving.
“We will still give presents and have a lovely dinner with the family. I just wish that children in Malaysia can go back to their normal lives soon and attend school without worries.
“It has been difficult for them when it comes to learning through a digital screen. That’s my Christmas wish for this year, ” she adds.