KUALA LUMPUR: Having family members of different races and religions have made festive celebrations a grand affair for Chong Tong Lean’s family over the years.
For this year’s Christmas, the family will celebrate in its own uniquely Malaysian way – from family gathering to gift wrapping, all the way to decorating the Christmas tree and cooking the festive meal.
“Christmas is the celebration with the best attendance among our extended family members year in, year out.
“It’s probably the atmosphere of the year-end holiday season that allows most of us to gather here at my place every year.
“The feeling of seeing everyone happily catching up and spending time with each other at my humble home is truly awesome.
“Precious times like this is something money cannot buy, ” said the jovial Chong, 52, when met at her family home in Taman Seri Segambut here.
Her husband S. Vicknesvaran, 54, said he looked forward to festive celebrations that have have been keeping the family together over the years.
“My family celebrates all the festive seasons all year round and we make it a point to change the decorations in the house accordingly.
“Come every Christmas, my elder brother who is a Muslim and his wife, and also my elder sister, who is a Christian, will join us in the family gathering.
“When Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali comes, we will gather and celebrate again, ” quipped Vicknesvaran, who runs a logistics business.
By observing the various festivals, he said it was his way of educating his four children that neither religion nor race divides them.
“We are not Malaysian if we only celebrate our own festive celebration, ” he said.
As food is an important unity factor, Chong said the Christmas Eve dinner table will always feature her signature Mummy Fried Chicken, traditional Hakka mixed vegetables, mutton curry and rendang chicken.
“And this year, the famed spicy debal curry (devil’s curry) will be on the table as one of my son’s girlfriends is Portuguese, ” she said, adding that she is proud to be Malaysian as people of all religions and races come together to learn about each other’s culture and beliefs and celebrate diversity.
On Christmas, Chong noted her family relishes the gift shopping and wrapping activities, as well as decking up the Christmas tree at home.
“I hope my children will follow this Malaysian way, where we celebrate all festivals as Malaysians, ” she said.