Christmas this year: no visits to the most beautifully Christmas – decorated shopping malls and public places in Malaysia. Something that we would do every year to capture the latest, biggest, most dazzling decorations and all the festivities that come with it.
Our home will have a small Christmas tree with lights and ornaments on them. The presents will be ready for the family. Every year, Christmas is with the family.
This year, Christmas will be the same. But, this time it will be with Laura.
Yes, Jeannie and I get to spend Christmas with Laura. Jeannie and I have spent the last 3 weeks with Laura in her everyday life, here in the U.S.. It has been nothing short than amazing – that wonderful sense of love in the air even without it being spoken.
This Christmas, it will be the most joyful, so far.
We are blessed in abundance.
We would like to share this special picture, now a treasured picture of the Atkinsons – it was amongst the first of our family reunion after nearly 3 and a half years.
We, the Atkinsons, wish all our family and friends the world over, “Merry Christmas. May God’s peace be with you in abundance, always.”
We leave you with Mariah Carey’s, “All I want for Christmas is You”; specially chosen and dedicated by Laura for all to enjoy.
As Christmas is fast approaching us (5 days to go), it is kind of different how we, Jeannie and I; are approaching it this year. Wait a minute. Is this another Hallmark movie similarity?
Videos and pictures posted on the many social media platforms of the most beautiful Christmas decorations, lights, themes, live musicals and other performances and shows at shopping malls, and other public places – this has to be the best ever…until the next year.
These malls will be crowded with people. Everyone there, or mostly everyone; comes to these shopping centers to be in the “spirit of Christmas”. People shoot billions of pictures from their camera smartphones. Some may even venture to use real, full fledge cameras, you know the chunky over-sized, blob-shaped bodies (the cameras, not the owners…maybe the owners, too). Strapped, cross-strapped and tied to their torsos are camera lenses the size of bazookas and other accessories. The question is whether they will be able to get that rare million dollar shot? In the end, it does not really matter, they have the equipment, they might as well use it.
The food – yes, you can be forgiven if you go dizzy with choice. There are cakes, cookies (‘biscuits” aren’t as common these days), chocolates, sweets, savory and non-savory food; local, western, east-Asian; Malaysians love to eat.
Yes, I am talking about Christmas in Malaysia. Many Christians would be in church for days before and after Christmas, involved in mass and organized programs. There are also the little pre-Christmas and post-Christmas gatherings of friends and family members at each other’s homes.
So, it is not quite a Hallmark movie small town Christmas. So far, snow flurries only, no full-blown snowfall.
We are having a very cosy, meaningful Christmas with Laura and a few of her friends. It is our first Christmas with Laura since 2018. We are enjoying a non-commercialized Christmas.
Our Lady, Mother Mary; has always blessed, interceded and prayed for us, that all the we ask for, we will be blessed. This Christmas, we lift up all our greatest needs in health, and all that we ask for. We lift “K” https://leatherpotato.com/2022/11/30/she-said-im-all-alone/ in prayer, as would have underwent the procedure in hospital. She will be recovering in hospital over the next few days, until after Christmas.
Mother Mary has always been a guiding path in my life. Though there have been many instances where I veered off track for a bit… more than a bit, maybe. Mother Mary has always been with us and has never left us alone.
Why is Mother Mary so important in the lives of Catholics? She is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mother Mary has a great sense of humor. Where do you think her son got His great sense of humor from?
As we move towards the day of Christmas; we wish you and your loved ones, full of joy, peace, hope, enjoyment and laughter with family and friends.
I leave you all with “Hail, Holy Queen”, a Sister Act version. Enjoy.
Just send in your prayer requests / petitions, and I will pass them on to HIM when HE calls next.
We’ve got Lensia who asks that her aging father be comforted in his time of illness. We’ve got K, the 13 year old girl who will be going for spinal surgery to remove fluid so that she can stand and walk properly again without any hindrances…
I am just the messenger, that answers HIS call and sends your prayer petitions to HIM. I do not perform miracles. Only GOD, HIMSELF answers your prayers, in HIS time.
It is Christmas. You too, can join in and pray for all those who lift their prayers and petitions here.
My God-daughter, K (her name I will not disclose for her privacy); is a bright young 13-year old. Born from an extra-marital affair, where her father, a doctor and married to someone else; had an affair with an intern, who was not married. Her father did not want to have anything to do with her. Her mother migrated to another country with the promise of returning back soon. It has been nearly 5 years.
She is being looked after and cared for by a gem of a person, who is not of the same race nor religion as her.
She is a typical teenager who has the general same likes and dislikes as any other teenager around her age. Shy, she is a very sheltered “away from crowds” girl.
Young K, recently started having a health issue where her legs just collapse under her when she walks or stands. She was very reluctant to turn up for her appointment with the specialist for fear of bad news. A hospital diagnosed her to have fluid in her her spine, somewhere at the base.
This news itself, had literally frightened this little girl.
What more, now, she has to go for a 4 hour surgical procedure to remove the fluid. Her procedure is scheduled for December 21st. She will still be in hospital on Christmas day. She hopes to be out of hospital by her birthday on December 31st.
Her schoolmates, have been labelling her all sorts of names such as handicapped and “not one of us”. This has affected her badly.
She cried out, “I’m all alone!”.
I am making an appeal to all the 8 billion people of this world to like, send encouraging messages – to let her know that we, the people of this big blue planet, CARE, THAT SHE IS NOT ALONE.
You can send your care messages in the comments section of this article, share this article with everyone else on social media. You can even send messages through my email: email@example.com
K needs all the love and support she can get. On behalf of K, I thank you in advance.
Trailer: Coming real soon…THROUGH THE EYES OF A 4 YEAR OLD BOY
The house, up the hill… from the school I was to attend in Standard One (year I) when I turn 7… the scary big man in red and white… coming up the road at the side of the house, carrying a big red sack over his shoulder. Maybe, he was going around looking for little children to snatch and carry off in that strange big red sack of his…
The setting: early 1960s… The place: Jalan Chantik, PJ (2).
Months later, a fierce colourful dragon jumping up and down, with its head bouncing from left to right and back and very loud sounds surrounding it… I didn’t know that dragons were real…
The same road saw a very old, small, dark skin man, carry a green table on his white, bandaged head. Daddy called him to come in our gate, which was not locked. This man was so black…he must have got burnt by the sun because we see him come past our house in the sun… His table had many small compartments, with several different nuts. As he walked along the road, he used to shout on top of his voice, “Kachang Putih! Kachang Putih!”. He would pass our house everyday around the same time, when the sun was shining and hot. We never saw him on days that had heavy rain.
I also thought he was dressed funny. First, he had the white bandage around his head. Then, he did not wear pants. He had a white cloth… like a skirt…
Then, there was an aunty, who wore a funny hat. She carried a long, wooden pole on her shoulder. At the ends of the pole, on each side; hung round baskets….
Another lady, a nurse I think, because she was always dressed in white, yet I think she may have just finished school as she carried a rattan / cane basket. But mummy used to buy soap from her. Maybe, after school, she sold soap part-time.
Thinking back….60 years have gone by.
The “scary big man dressed in red and white” was Santa Claus. No one prepared me for “Santa Claus”. Neither did they tell me he was Santa Claus. I would not have thought so since he was walking on the road by the side of the house. No one told me that he was the good guy, on our side. All “those years” of growing up, from the time we (my sister, Jen and I) were 2 years (which was the time we began understanding things – we were all grown up to be able to handle the “adult” stuff like understanding things) to 4 years; it was ingrained in us, “Don’t talk to strangers”. So, all strangers were “the bogeyman”.
Long before we ever watched Ultraman battling monsters on tv; the fierce colourful dragon jumping up and down, with its head bouncing from left to right and back again, and very loud sounds of big drums and cymbals clashing surrounding it… that was in celebration of Chinese New Year or lunar year celebrations. I reacted like any kid my age would have reacted at that time…I freaked out!
This monster size looking snake, with huge eyes, the size of bowling balls (not that I knew what bowling balls looked like at that time), snaking its way up the road at the side of the house. What more… every step it took thumped the ground with the sound of thunder (pounding of drums) and its hissing, the sound of the crack of lightning (clashing of cymbals).. No one told us that was supposed to be a lion. That sure didn’t look like a lion. I know what a lion looked like. Daddy & mummy had taken Jen and I to visit the zoo in KL (3). We saw what lions looked like. They sure weren’t colourful and didn’t look like what we saw on the road. Anyway, what was a lion doing, walking freely around the houses?
I thought that the man balancing the table on his head was from the circus. It was quite a feat as the table looked stable and he looked comfortable (“table” mentioned 3 times in a single breath) with it as he walked long hours each day, everyday. The kacang putih or white peanuts and other varieties he sold, was quite tasty. It must have been healthy food because he also sold salted fried parapu or dhal. That “uncle” is fondly remembered. We were thought to refer to every grownup man as an “uncle” and every grownup lady as an “aunty”. Oh… and his head was not bandaged. He wore a turban!
The aunty who wore that funny upside down filter-shaped hat could most probably have been from the same circus as the uncle above. Her hat was to give her some shade from the sun. She was very good at balancing several round baskets, one on top of each other; at each end of the pole. She carried her cakes in these round baskets.
She sold some of the most delicious cakes in many colours that were diamond, round or rectangular shaped. The red and white layered kuih in rectangle shape, the white rice with a sort of green custard on top, or the green sort of custard with a coconut layered custard on top, the blue and white colour rice with kaya jam. I think she started walking her daily routes early in the morning as her cakes usually sold out by noon.
Sometimes, another uncle will carry something similar to the aunty selling cakes. He, too; sold cakes, differently from the aunty; but he carried them in round aluminum-type pans.
The lady who I thought was a nurse because she was all dressed in white yet at the same time thought she was a schoolgirl because she carried a rattan basket, was actually a part time soap or clothes detergent saleslady. She used to carry packets of this detergent and go from house-to-house, selling them. My mother used to buy detergent quite often from this lady.
I had an enjoyable time writing this essay as it brought back many favourable memories. I have tried to depict this story as best as I can from the memories I have of the time we (my family) stayed in that house up the hill in Jalan Chantik, PJ. I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
It has been quite an eventful last 4 weeks in the Klang → Subang Jaya, Klang → Shah Alam and Klang → Petaling Jaya routes and back. Klang is where Dad and mum live; Subang Jaya is where Malcolm & Uma and Jeannie & I live; Shah Alam is where Malcolm & Uma live and Petaling Jaya is Klang to UMMC hospital.
The best baker of buttercakes, my mum – Philomena Atkinson; was at her usual at age 84 just about to turn 85.
It was one evening, somewhere in the first week of June, I get a call from mum. Oh, by the way, “best baker of buttercakes” has been bestowed upon her by the many. many, many people who have tasted her buttercakes and want more. Everyone keeps pestering her for her secret ingredient. Her “secret” ingredient is an open secret. Why? Because even if you know it, it would be impossible to duplicate. You may come close, but exacting it is not possible. This “secret” ingredient is called “love“.
You will agree with me that it is impossible to duplicate, just like a fingerprint. It belongs to that person. It is also just like colours.
Here, just when you thought the spectrum of colours had 8 – 12 (these were the standard colours in the box of colour pencils we used to take to school)…. The range started growing until smartphones were touting 16 million colours. Then, the “in-thing” phrase “A.I.” or artificial intelligence (don’t know what the big fuss is all about when politicians have been around for the longest time) has become a new buzzword which in turn has created a palette of 1 ber ber billion, yes billion; colours. So, the standard set of 8 -12 colours are now recognized in the different shades, most of which we think we don’t see; they are there. It is just that we don’t recognize them or take it for granted.
Back to mum’s secret ingredient in her buttercakes. It was that one evening…I get a call from her saying that she had a fall. I had just picked Jeannie up from work and was about to head home. She said that she was carrying a freshly baked cake out of the oven when she lost her balance and fell. I think at that time, dad was out on one of his errands. At 90, that man sure has a swagger.
Jeannie and I went straight up (or down?) to Klang from P.J.. We reached mum within 45 minutes. Dad was already at home by then. Mum complained about a bad pain in her leg. She was advised by a couple of friends to go for an x-ray at a nearby clinic.. She was hesitant and not quite up to going right there and then.
I called a buddy – childhood friend and classmate, Dr Michael Lee Pillai, up for advice on getting x-rays done. He advised that it was better for mum to get an MRI done at the hospital nearby so that a specialist could assess the issue mum had.
We took mum the next morning to have this done. Results showed no fractures or broken bones.
We celebrated her birthday over the weekend and on June 14th, mum’s actual birthday; Jeannie and I visited them. A few minutes after we left them; dad calls to say mum had another fall. We turned back and headed back to their house. We were less than 10 minutes away at that time.
She was climbing the stairs, with the aide of the prong walking stick; to go to her bedroom. Just after the first step, she fell backwards. We believed what could have happened was that the prong walking stick was not placed firmly on the step, which may have caused her to lose her balance. With a slight bump on the back of her head, she seemed ok. But, she did complain of a pain in her hip joint.
We, again took her for another MRI which showed no fractures or broken bones. She decided to take a break from her cake making and focus on her physical recovery.
A few days ago, dad called to say that mum was back at baking, but taking it at an easy pace. Many people who love her buttercakes expressed a great relief to hear that they can get her buttercakes again. Most common statement from them, “There is no others like your mother’s buttercakes”. Pictures of some of the buttercakes she has made are shown here.
Mum is also well known for her suggee cakes and fruit cakes. She would start preparing for the fruitcakes between 3 to 6 months. This story is for another time.😘
So, yeah! The best of buttercake baker is back!
NOTES: Klang, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
RCIA does have its perks, so it looks. In late 1993, this young lady, attending one of the two RCIA groups; caught my eye. I was one of the facilitators for the group.
Visited Jeannie in her hometown in Kampar, Perak during Chinese New Year in February, 1994. Spent the whole day with her. She took me sightseeing to all the local spots, including the railway station.
The Mandarin ducks. One of the countries Jeannie and I visited on our first trip to Europe, was The Netherlands. This was part of a European tour we caught from London, England. So, on this trip in The Netherlands, we toured Amsterdam and stayed for the night. Our hotel was by one of the many canals Amsterdam is famous for. Our room was on the ground floor, with a large sliding door leading out to a sort of garden and beyond that was the canal.
We saw many Mandarin ducks in the garden. So, we crushed some cracker biscuits and started feeding these ducks with the crumbs. We soon ran out of crumbs and walked back to our room. The Mandarin ducks followed us back, too. We had to close the sliding door quickly to prevent the ducks from coming in. The ducks were pecking at the glass door and only went away after a long while.
This was a bedtime story that Laura loved to listen. Almost every night for many years, she would ask for this same story. She always had the same enthusiasm about it and never got tired of it.
Laura, this is the first time, ever; you are seeing the pictures below of these Mandarin ducks. Searched high and low for them until I found them.
Home was more at the pool and all the swim races and championships.
Fun with us, her parents. 😁
Penang, part of her holiday visit of some of the states in Malaysia before moving to the U.S. to further her tertiary studies.
As you can see from all these pictures; you have touched the lives of everyone; especially us; mummy and I.
Happy 21st birthday, Laura. What a super fantastic milestone. Mummy and I are so proud of you, for who you are. We wish you an awe-inspiring life, filled with all your dreams come true. We love you.❤️❤️❤️
Just watched this movie on tv starring Paige Bach and James Nitti, amongst others. It was centered around chocolate. Yeah…well, that is one of the reasons I watched this movie. And I watched it with “I dream of Jeannie” my wife.
It is definitely nice to get away from the stress. And one way of doing that is to watch a movie without stress.
I thought it as a nice movie where Lauren (Paige) was an everyday hardworking executive had to team up with the secretive….
The ideas of how to sell an exclusive brand of chocolate to make it inclusive to reach out toa broader….
I reached out to the lead actress, Paige Bach. And she responded.😁
The fairly soft Christmas music playing in the background….”We Three Kings”… the fireplace blazing quite brightly, looking warm, red cinders at the bottom of the logs. 9.00pm. Dec 24th.
Though there are 21 people including myself, here; lots of happy chats in several small groups, making it difficult to follow a single topic without being distracted by another or the others.
The group at the back seem to be having a fun chat with much laughter. From where I am, sitting in the middle hall, slightly out of the fringe of the crowd, it is quiet… or quieter.
“Silent Night” was playing just. Now, “Auld Lang Syne” is on. I think the music is moving too fast as it is now another version of “Silent Night” playing – piano is the main instrument with a double bass accompanying it. Lounge music. Or am I typing too slow and a year has gone by in a flash after the “Auld Lang Syne” song. Or is it “The Matrix”?
It was a good evening at Mal’s (Malcolm) and Uma’s place, waiting… and finally bringing in Christmas with family and extended family.
The morning of Christmas. 11.20am.
As I pondered (an old word used in writing articles) what I should write… yes, I can see some of you while reading this article say, “It’s Christmas Day! What’s he doing writing? He should be Christmasing (Christmas-ing)!”
I am Christmas-ing. I love what I do. This is my 100th article for the year of at least 500 or more words. I thought what better way than to share about family.
My earliest memories go back to when I was 2 years old. My sister, Jennifer was 3. This was just before Christmas. Dad and mum had gone out for the evening. They locked their bedroom door because all the wrapped Christmas presents were in there and they did not want Jennifer and I to get at them. But you guys know my sister…
Jennifer out smarted dad and mum because she found a way to their bedroom… through the connecting bathroom because that door was not locked. And she outsmarted me, too; by pulling the “I’m older than you so you do as I say” trick. Needless to say, we were caught wrapping paper handed; ripping off the wrapping paper not only from our presents but those from others, too. The consequences of that… selected amnesia (favouritely used by a middle 90 something year aged politician)😉
Christmas to me is everyday. It is the birth of Peace, Love, Joy. If we don’t see it, feel it, hear it; we have to look for it. Everyday. And it starts from within.
Peace, Love, Joy is with me all the time. Family.
There is the Christmas tree, the beautiful ornaments and the lights that go with it. The decorations in all the shopping malls, buildings, homes. Then, there is Bing Cosby belting out his rendition of cheery Christmas carols – he never seems to go out of style. There are almost countless number of singers and performers with their music and performances that fill the air throughout the season with happiness.
This season, our family remembers Jennifer or Jen as she is known to many, and Nigel. They enjoy Christmas.
Laura, Jeannie and I wish you, your family and loved ones Merry Christmas!
Everyone has a story or two about Christmas in their lives. Please do share your Christmas memories, fun, experiences, moments; with all of us here. Your Christmas story can touch someone reading this article.