Let me begin by thanking all the friends and acquaintances who have been creating, sending or routing messages and greetings with their best wishes for the holiday seasons and the year ahead. They began to come in around the second week of Advent, normally through WhatsApp, Facebook, emails or other social media. Some are long, complete with videos and jingles; some are funny or meant to be; some are sexy or sexist; while others are religious, thought provoking or instructive. I thank all of you out there who have done this to me, intentionally or otherwise, and I love you for taking the time to do so. I tried to read them all, unless they are obvious recycled materials, often from previous years, but I have refrained from answering them, except on a few cases. Please take this as my reply, if you would find time to read it.
I have also received the odd letters and Christmas cards, which are increasingly rare and hence valuable. I would try to reply to them before Chinese New Year. I have heard people said they were upset by the seemingly reflex-like messages they received which they didn’t find particularly meaningful; someone has even found the trend of indiscriminate circulation of such messages offensive; but I would urge them to be mindful of the people who had at least made attempts and tried to connect themselves with others. The world has certainly changed a lot since the days when people wrote letters and sent Christmas cards to each other. In their hay days, Sacred Heart College used to have a very strong if not the strongest commercial section offering secretarial classes which were in great demand. I have learnt that they stopped running those classes long ago.
Before I veer off to something else, let me assure my friends that both Su and I have been well. We both manage to maintain our respective body weight and have been enjoying reasonably good health year round. From January to April, we were traveling a lot: we stayed in Whistler for over 60 days and in New York City and Chicago for some ten days. In June, we spent another ten days between Hokkaido and Taipei. We also spent a few days in Guangzhou in October with my school day friends, while I had one or two odd trips to Kuala Lumpur. Other than that, we have been home bound, enjoying Su’s cooking and the malt whiskies we bought duty free every time we pass through Chek Lap Kok.
Su continues to experiment with her culinary skills, in scope and in style. She has continued to read up literature she picked up from bookshops or found in the local library. She has also written the odd articles which she posted on her column. We now try to eat at home as often as we can. She has also tried to expand her herb garden outside the windows facing east.
As for me, I try to go to the gym five times a week. A typical day begins with an MTR trip to Ricci Hall for morning Mass at 7:30am, followed by a gym session either at Craigengower Cricket Club or Kowloon Cricket Club, depending on whether I have a lunch appointment on the day and where. I would then try to catch a nap, do some reading or desk work, learn some Masonic rituals and plan for the evening. I have been trying hard to reduce my evening engagements, but I still find myself having to attend two to three evening meetings a week. I am hopeful that from next year onwards, I would have more evenings to enjoy Su’s cooking.
As for the children, I met Lawrence for a few days in April in New York, but I haven’t seen my daughter for quite some time now. Do I miss them? You bet I do; but I have learnt to accept the separation. These days, we communicate between us mainly through a chat group; and they are always in my prayers, as are many of my friends.
Even as I was typing away, I asked myself whether the year 2016 has had any significant impact on me. The short answer must be yes, but I cannot name any one single event that I would classify as “defining” in the way that CNN has labelled in an identity promo the Year 2016 as a defining year, one with conflict and heartbreak, disruption and passion, and courage and hope. The good news may be that I am not aware of any conflict, heartbreak or disruption in my life, while I am continuingly hopeful that I have the courage and passion for what life presents me. In a year with Brexit and many elections and surprises, ending with yet another death in the music world, and locally with elections and plenty of disruption, Su and I have had a largely peaceful and uneventful year, for which I am extremely thankful. I thank God for the strength and health to carry on with what I am doing; and I thank all our families and friends for being there, taking care of us and each other in their own ways. Long may that last!
I wish everyone a mindful and happy year ahead and a productive Year of the Cock or Rooster. This bird being a traditional symbol for announcing a new day, the ensuing year would bode well for those who would seize each day from the morning; and I hope that I would write in this column more frequently and regularly.