It’s Christmas time again… slightly less than three weeks. The shopping malls are crowded and businesses will be thriving again. The Mid-Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur (1) was no exception yesterday. Crowded. Christmas decorations everywhere, with huge themed displays in the Concourse and North and South courts (that is what they are named)… Many of the shops and stores were decked with Christmas decorations, too.

The Magic of a Smile, Zaltro 23, Pinero

Lots of purchases, were made, everywhere. I think people have come out to feel and experience the festivities after being locked in by the pandemic for almost two years. They have reason to smile again.

Christmas is way more than shopping or being with the crowds of the hustle and bustle of activities.

For Christians the world over, Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is about family; Christmas is about friends.

Hey! I am supposed to be writing this story about this long lost friend, Sharon; now found after more than 35 years, who lives in Germany presently. We connected over the past few days through Whatsapp. Loraine, her sister, was right – Sharon is a live wire! So, it seems I have veered off to Christmas. What is happening now is I am writing two articles at the same time. Haha.


Jeannie and I visited my mum and dad at their home in Klang last evening, as we usually do at least once a week. In the course of our conversation about Christmas this year, Jeannie volunteered to put up the Christmas tree and some decorations. My mum straight away said that dad did not want any decorations up this year. Dad added in saying, “It is a period of mourning that they want to observe for the passing of Jennifer and Nigel.”

Jeannie and I totally understand mum’s and dad’s wishes. We respect their wishes, too. They expect us to celebrate Christmas in our homes as usual. My siblings and I will still gather at their home in Klang for Christmas dinner as it has been tradition for years and years. And years (stronger emphasis).

Jennifer and Nigel pulled out all stops when it came to decorating their homes. It is safe to say that they usually started putting up decorations at least one and a half months before Christmas. Nothing was done haphazardly. They planned. They had themes!

A few years back, Nigel decked his house with enough Christmas lights, so brightly lit up; that it could be seen from outer space. His decorated house acted as a beacon of light like a lighthouse for spaceships travelling. Captain James T. Kirk of Starfleet Enterprise; told pilot, Sulu; to set course for the Enterprise, using Nigel’s lighted house as an anchor light; to travel to a new frontier where no man has travelled before.

Now, heaven is no longer the same with the both of them there. No longer on lofty, soft white clouds, only playing harps. Imagine heaven all decked up for Christmas – colourful decorations (yes, themed) with hundreds of millions of lights (LED of course, environmentally friendly). The Man is gonna have one heck-of-a electricity bill.

I know it is a bit early for Christmas. A few days ago, when my good friend, Richard Kok; joined us for lunch, we, as usual; talked about a variety of topics. We shared many ideas and views on these topics. I thought many of them could be used in my upcoming and future articles. By the next day, I forgot most of what we discussed about. I will have to get Richard to come over again to jog my memory.

While at Mid-Valley Megamall; I bought myself a Christmas present: the Thronmax Mdrill One kit. I like its versatility in recording applications.I see this Christmas gift to myself 😉 as useful.

So, I thought the best way of remembering is to record our discussion. Thinking bigger, I could explore a plan to have a podcast channel. I was toying with the idea of stating this middle of last year. Somehow, it remained just a strong idea, only.

This can also lead to exploring an idea of growing my YouTube Channel.

A Christmas present for work…

I stopped by at the artificial intelligence shop. Lots of seemingly cool gadgets… Nah! I’ll rely on real intelligence…mine! For now.

As we were coming back into Subang Jaya; there was one big, bright star, shining…

christmas star jupiter saturn
The Christmas star. A conjunction between Saturn and Venus in 2016. | NURPHOTO/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES


  1. Kuala Lumpur – capital of Malaysia


Siblings’ photo: Standing Left to Right; Shirley, Nigel, Malcolm, Uma, myself, Jeannie, Mabel, Terence, Ashley
Seated Left to Right: Ray, Jen, Laura, Sarah

They (not sure who “they” are) say a picture paints a thousand words.

This has to be amongst the best pictures of me, my family, my siblings and their families. It would have been perfect if Alana was in it. I think she was abroad at that time. I love this picture for its clarity and detail. I can’t remember exactly when this picture was taken. It could have been 2015, 2016 or 2017 Christmas.

Seated Left to Right: Raymond Arnold. Former national squash coach, national squash player, now squash coach extraordinaire. Always ready for a good laugh. He is game for anything and loves food. Who doesn’t? Was married to my late sister, Jennifer.

Next seated is Jennifer (Jen). I always used to say that no camera could escape Jen. Jen always insisted on many photographs be taken, especially with family. Hence, the photo above. She was also the family instigator / organiser of many of family gatherings. This picture was taken at Christmas time at The Curve shopping centre in Petaling Jaya. We were there because Jen thought it a great idea that we siblings and our families meet at a mall like this for light shopping and dinner at least once every Christmas. We always had fun at these once a year at the mall Christmas affairs with the family.

Jen was richly talented with her art. She brightened the world with her paintings and murals on many different objects and surfaces.

One of Jen’s paintings / creations. The picture is so vibrant, the colours and detail are exquisite.

Jen also worked extensively on troll beads, fusing beautiful colours on them. She spent long hours working up ideas as art.

Seated next to Jennifer (back to “Jennifer” instead of “Jen” for me. I grew up with “Jennifer” in my life, so I am more comfortable with her full name, though she went into “Jen” mode.) is our (Jeannie’s and my) daughter, Laura. She is the youngest in the Atkinson clan.

Laura, Jeannie and me

Laura is currently abroad, furthering her tertiary education. While in Malaysia; if she was not at studies, she was training and swimming in championships throughout the country.

Laura was a state swimmer, representing Selangor. She was amongst the top 3 swimmers in Malaysia for the 100m and 50m Breaststroke events in the girls’ age group. Now, she represents her university and its swim team in these events and others, too. Just won the 100yd (yard) Breaststroke at Caroll University (Millikin University meet with Caroll University – 7th November, 2021).

Now, sitting on Laura’s left in the picture is (Chef) Sarah Atkinson. Besides being an artist in food presentation; the meals that she prepares leaves her guests wanting for more; seconds, third helpings. Literally! She is a chef at a foreign high commission. Sarah is the daughter of Nigel and Shirley.

Standing, at the back, from left: Shirley, was married to my late brother, Nigel. Shirley is operations chief at a freight forwarding logistics company. She is the most sought after person by her shipping line agencies and clients; pretty much on call 24×7.

Then, after Shirley in the picture; comes Nigel. Nigel is the in the middle of the five of us siblings : Jennifer, Alan, Nigel, Terence and Malcolm.

Nigel ran a temp-maid cleaning agency, providing the services of maids to clean your home, or small office or building. He had a good rapport with his clients, which were from Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam. (3) He obliged some people who were staying out of these areas.

From young, Nigel had this fastidious trait about him: everything had to be clean and in place at all times. There was never a time that anything out of place, even by one millimetre; would get past him. Always having a joke or two, or three at hand to share, he would be the livewire of a party. he loved to sing, too. He was generous, even with the little he had.

Malcolm is next in the picture. He is the youngest in the family but that never stopped him from doing and achieving what he wanted. Known by many as “the singing pastor”; his music and his personality has drawn many, many people to the good news.

Malcolm is up to date on news of his favourite marvel action heroes. He has a pretty good collection of marvel comics, a collection which he started from the time he was in school.

Much of his time now is spent recording and producing music that he sings solo, and with others, too. He wants the end result of production to be the way he has envisaged the songs to be.

Uma, Malcolm’s wife; has a penchant for cooking. She loves cooking. she has all sorts of cooking utensils and gadgets that bring out the already deliciousness in the food she serves. Dinners at their home usually has a wide spread of Indian or western cuisine or a combination of both.

While at hers and Malcolm’s home yesterday she taught us a lesson which I heard for the first time and think it as interesting. If you are eating an Indian meal and use your hands instead of the usual cutlery; you pick up the food with your fingers, making sure the food does not touch the palm of your hand.

Continuing with the siblings photo. I am next after Uma and don’t need any introduction. 😄😉

Jeannie is standing next to me, more like in front of me. She hardly needs any introduction. She is in business development in the food services industry. Always on the lookout for new food items and brands.

Jeannie is also a batik influencer. Batik designs and materials have evolved since it became popular many years ago. Jeannie has an interest in the different types of batik and has produced several ladies’ jackets and tops that have gone to several parts of the world. If you see a lady in the U.S., Australia or Japan in a beautiful batik jacket; it may most likely be one of Jeannie’s creations.

Mabel is next. Terence’s wife; she makes fancy design cakes. She is artistic and thus produces these beautifully designed cakes. When there’s a party in her house; cups will be plastic with your names written on them so that there won’t be an unnecessary waste of cups. She is organised.

Terence, Mabel’s husband; happens to be my brother, not my “second brother” or my cousin’s cousin. Wait a minute – my cousin’s cousin? We’re onto something here. 😁

Terence, who is also the “Uncle Al” (4) of our generation; has been with international schools for many years now. He spends a lot of time with his hobby – hydroponic (5) vegetables. He is about to turn 60 in a few days time. Happy Birthday, Terence (in advance). Welcome to the “60s is the new thirties” club.

Ashley is the last but not least in this picture. Younger daughter of Terence and Mabel; she is a teacher by profession. She started a new handicraft business fairly recently, promoting all the handicraft she makes. She is a very talented singer.

This photo of my siblings and myself and our families, has that warm and Christmas-y atmosphere about it. Will be treasured. Christmas is just around the corner.

Every time I re-visit a picture, it tells me the same story, but from a different point of view. As I get on in years, the same picture becomes more vibrant. – Good memories. Many smiles. Everlasting.

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, I think it does more than that. Definitely more than a thousand words – this essay is over 1,300 words.


  1. Jennifer passed away in March 2019.
  2. Nigel passed away in August 2021.
  3. Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in Selangor, Malaysia.
  4. “Uncle Al” – his mannerisms, way of talking and expressing himself is like dad’s brother, Uncle Al.
  5. Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture which involves in growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent… Hydroponics offers many advantages notably a decrease in water usage in agriculture.