What if this were your last Christmas together?

iStock_christmas_beachI’ve just gotten back to Singapore from a lovely family holiday in Bali. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view), I had had a Skype interview scheduled right in the middle of our trip. Before the interview, I hadn’t been able to relax on the holiday just yet as I was so preoccupied with and anxious about the impending appointment. But once the interview was over, and it felt like it had gone well, it suddenly struck me that if my application to graduate school were successful, this Bali trip would very likely be the last family holiday the four of us (my parents, my sister and I) would be able to have together for a long while.

These December trips were always our little yearly routine. Whether nearby in Malaysia or further away to the United States or New Zealand, these trips are always meticulously planned by my parents. And they didn’t just include the fun and games, the stuff of family bonding. Each trip was also always peppered with moments of intentional teaching. Just this Bali trip, my parents had brought along a DVD series of inspirational talks by various industry leaders. We watched a couple and after each talk, we would share our thoughts. My mum would share her take-away message and my dad would relate the talk to a real life experience. And even though my sister and I might’ve yawned more than a few times (oops), we did absorb the useful bits (Papa and mummy, if you’re reading this, we really did!).

If I do go away to graduate school (and I’m praying that I do), I’m truly going to miss these extended periods of family time.  After my interview, I really got into the holiday mood and consciously savored the rest of the time there together as a family. You never know when something might be the last time.

Nine years ago, was my maternal grandfather’s last Christmas with us. He passed away suddenly right after Christmas; also, right after my mother’s entire side of the family had been able to get together for a trip to China together with him. From then on, every Christmas is a poignant reminder of how important it is to treasure the times we do have together as a family.

No, family traditions are not just rituals of sentimental value… Rightly explained in Ideas for Creating Traditions, these traditions are landmarks in the memory banks of your family. And in my family, these landmarks are the values and life perspectives that my parents have so intentionally shown my sister and I.

Hope you’ve had some precious time with your family and loved ones this Christmas.

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