Merry Christmas! To usher in the celebrations today, we speak to 4 Malaysians from all over the country about what the holiday means to them.

Joel Raj Victor, Photographer

Joel is the main man behind the cameras of Jobest Studio. Based in Ipoh, this 27 year old photographer shares with us his views on Christmas.

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Cherished Christmas memory 

Growing up, we weren’t a well-to-do family. So Christmas was really special, as there would always be gifts under the Christmas tree. The anticipation and opening those gifts with my family around me, that is one of my most cherished memories.

We grew up in Ipoh, and my parents would always do their best for my three siblings and I, although they were struggling to make ends meet. That will remain etched in my mind. Today, although I am working, I feel like whatever I do for my parents will never repay them for the hardships they endured while we were growing up. I do my best to make them happy.

This Christmas

This year, we will be celebrating Christmas at my parents place in Ipoh. We also have a new addition to our family, as we just welcomed my baby nephew into the world. So there’s going to be a family gathering coupled with the baby naming ceremony.

Christmas anticipations

I’m looking forward to just joining in the Christmas fun, making cookies and muruku with my family, helping mum cook. All of us will make sure we return home in time to help mum with Christmas, and we will congregate in the family home.

Christmas, to me, is.. 

Christmas is about the lights. The very lights bring my family together. Christmas is the day that Christ was born, and it is that light that unites the family every year.

Follow Joel on his wedding photography profile here.

Tresa Lazaroo, Radio Jockey

Tresa is one of the few who have worked in both the major Malaysian Tamil radio stations. “I feel like if I stay in one place for too long, there will be no growth,” she tells us openly. This Minnal FM radio jockey now juggles her commitments between being on air, emceeing and doing voice overs.

Cherished Christmas memory 

My fondest Christmas memory is when I performed on stage for the first time at the age of 9. It was in Gemencheh, Negeri Sembilan, where I grew up. It was a Christmas eve program and I remember my dad got me a crown and this beautiful dress. It was a one of a kind experience, and quite possibly, a kick-start to my career in media.

This Christmas

You know, every Christmas, I will usually concentrate on getting new clothes, buying the cookies and decorations and so on. This year, I haven’t done any of that, and yet, it doesn’t matter. My heart is full. It really feels like I’m blessed, and I don’t need any of these material pleasures to celebrate Christmas.

This year, I haven’t spent time on the clothes or cookies or any of that, and yet, it doesn’t matter. My heart is full.

I’m looking forward to

Celebrating with my family. 2019 has been a challenging year for me, but I think I’ve handled it well, and perhaps this is the source of my strength. My brother has been unwell this year, and dealing with that while balancing my job and other commitments was no easy feat. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I did it all, but I’m glad that I handled it well without getting stressed. Perhaps this is God’s Christmas gift to me.

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My family and I will be celebrating in Kuala Lumpur this year for a change, instead of Gemencheh, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them.

Christmas to me is.. 

Christmas is love. As much love as you shower upon Jesus Christ, your Christmas will be that fulfilled. There is no Christmas without love.

Reach Tresa on Instagram here.

Charles Mohan, news presenter & humanitarian

When asked about Christmas in Malaysia, news presenter and humanitarian Charles has this to say, “It is sad that people are dividing Malaysians even further with Christmas celebration, even when it comes to wishing those who do celebrate,”

The Chief Executive Officer of Institut Onn Jaafar says, “For me, Christmas has always been the same. My friends of all races come over to my house, and we enjoy spending time and catching up,”

“Of course, Christmas is celebrated in conjunction with the birth of Jesus. But it is also a celebration of love, happiness and getting together without looking at race or religion,”  he says.

Cherished Christmas Memory

We used to live in the Telekom government quarters which was very near Klang market. On Christmas eve, I would follow my late mother to the market. We weren’t well off at the time, but with the meager RM150 we had, we would do all the marketing.

That evening, we will get ready to head to church. There were years when my mother didn’t have a nice saree to wear to church. People would ask her, why can’t you wear a nice saree. And I remember, she would day, “No, it’s okay, let the money be spent on the children,” After I began working, I bought my mum as many sarees as I could, until her cupboard was full, and she could wear any colour she wanted to!

My mum’s cooking also was a Christmas highlight. Her acchi muruku was just perfect, with the shape exactly resembling the mould! My sister and I often reminisce about mum’s acchi muruku.

I’m looking forward to 

This year the Pope said, let’s give Mother Mary a rest, and let Joseph take care of baby Jesus. I am looking forward to this message being delivered to people. Be a part of the woman’s life, help her out, give her time to rest. My hope this Christmas is that there will be more acknowledgement and respect for women. I have 4 sisters and I’ve seen their sacrifices. People need to see that the women around them balance so much, and sacrifice even more.

My hope this Christmas is that there will be more acknowledgement and respect for women.

Christmas to me is.. 

Christmas, for me, is about the loved ones. It’s about sharing this joyful occasion with the people you care about. My siblings and I will gather at my parents house and I try to have the same environment as when they were alive. On Christmas eve, we would go to church for mass, come home and have a get together, and at midnight we will have a small prayer.

One thing that has stuck with me is what my aunt told me many years ago, “Thambi, even if you have very little food at home, invite at least one person over and host them,” she said. This is a Tamil value that has been inculcated in us. If you can afford to host more people, then do that, but if you can’t, just invite one person. Ultimately, Christmas is all about giving.

even if you have very little food at home, invite at least one person over and host them

Wish Charles a Merry Christmas here.

Louisa Ananthan, student & Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 Finalist

This 21 year old lass is in the running for the coveted Miss Malaysia Universe title. Hailing from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Louisa decided to embark on a pageant because she wanted a platform for her voice to be heard. She is currently pursuing law at Brickfields Asia College.

Cherished Christmas Memory

My grandmother’s cooking is what comes to mind. There will be so many dishes laid out, I can’t even begin to describe it! While my grandmother is no longer with us, the memory of this is something that I will cherish for a long time.

I’m looking forward to 

The focus of Christmas has shifted for me. As a teenager, it was all about the presents. Now, it is about the people, like my friends and family. I’m looking forward to having my friends over this year to celebrate with them. And I can’t wait to dig into some delicious homemade chicken briyani!

Christmas to me is.. 

Family. And I don’t mean just my immediate family. I’m really close to my cousins on both sides, some of my cousins even grew up behind my house! It’s really a big celebration for us. It’s just the getting together of family and friends that I really look forward to.

Keep up with Louisa’s pageant journey here.

Team Varnam wishes all our readers a Blessed Christmas!

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