Christmas Is About Giving

by Patrick Liew on December 24, 2011

It was the month of December many years ago, the month that most families would arrange for a holiday and have a good time.

For me, it was a difficult time in my life. I was facing many problems that were draining me mentally and emotionally.

Still, I had one of the best holidays with my family. We still talked about it and have so much fun reliving the great times until today.

That year, I decided to drive my family to Malaysia. It was a trip to nowhere.

We just drove and stopped wherever we felt like stopping. We planned enough to last till the next meal or toilet break.

Along the way, we created a lot of fun and games to entertain ourselves. We had great conversations, sharing jokes and swopping stories.

The highlights of the Liews’ holiday? We played practical jokes on and kid each other all the time.

Let me share with you a typical humorous crossfire between my daughters when they were older.

In case you don’t know, Elsa is my eldest daughter and the future Prime Minister. Isa who is two years younger will be a future billionaire and will support me in my retirement days. (I have big dreams, don’t I?  🙂

Please take the following conversation with a pinch of salt.

Elsa: I’m the child that our parents longed for. You’re an afterthought.  🙂

Isa: No, you’re a trial run. I’m the masterpiece.  🙂

Elsa: Daddy and mummy love me more. Two years more than you.  🙂

Isa: Let’s see who lives longer. Ha!

I used to joke – I spent the first two years of their lives teaching them how to speak. Now, I have to spend my lifetime teaching them how to zip up.  🙂

You can tell we are a family that has a lot of fun – even at each other’s expense but we don’t take it personally. As someone wisely said, “Life is too short to take it too seriously.”

If you happened to drive side by side with our car, you could see smiles and maybe, hear our roaring laughters.

Every now and then, we would break out into songs. It was quite funny to see my two young daughters singing the ‘oldies.’

Once, I asked Elsa, “What if Daddy and Mummy go on a holiday without you?”

She replied instantly, “You will feel very lonely.”

You know what, she’s right.

I told my daughter half in jest, “I wish you will stay with me until you are forty. Hopefully by then, I can handle the loneliness of not having you around.”  🙂

When we passed a hotel that caught our attention, we would send Isa to enquire about the room rates. At that point in time, she was just a little kid, hardly more than 1.2 meter in height.

You can imagine her waddling like a penguin to the reception. Sometimes, she would put her two hands on the front desk and try to pull herself up to attract more attention.

With a loud voice, she would ask,”How much is your hotel?”

We would have such a good laugh.

Isa would run back and scream to us in ‘Singlish,’ “This hotel is only $200!” There would be another round of laughter.

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Cameron Highland. All the hotel rooms were either booked or priced at exorbitant rates.

We stopped at a local provision shop and asked somebody who looked like the lady boss if she knew of any available room.

She said, “Sure. If you don’t mind, I have a spare room upstairs but it’s not in the best condition.”

“How much do you charge?” I asked.

“For you, 25 ringgits.”

She must have seen the strange look on my face and tried to interpret my body language. Actually I was trying to hide my surprise at the low price.

“This is my last price. Take it or leave it.”

In my mind, I was thinking, “Lady, if you have attended My HSR Negotiation Mastery Course, you would have learned more options, like charging me at a higher price.”  🙂

We struck a deal that evening. I did not have a heart to bargain for a single cent lower.

For her, it was a great deal. One that was much higher than what the room was worth.

When we saw the room, our hearts should have sunk. Fortunately, it was not so easy to sink our hearts.

The room was run down to put it in a nice way. It had one creaky old bed and nothing much to please the eye.

The greatest shock was to come later.

When we took a shower, we realized the water pipe and shower head were spoilt and water was splurting in all directions. We had so much fun running around to prevent ourselves from getting wet but to no avail.

What’s worst, the drainage was somehow stuck. Soon, the room was literally flooded.

We had to spend the evening on the bed.

If you had walked into the room, you might think we are on a boat or in a castle surrounded by a shallow moat of murky water. It was a funny sight.

Earlier on, we had bought toys as Christmas presents for our kids. We ended up playing with them throughout the night. We had a great time.

When the clock struck twelve, we sang Christmas carols until the wee hour of the morning. Finally, we fell all over each other in a deep slumber.

It was another wonderful Christmas for the Liew Family.

Since young, I’ve always felt there was magic in Christmas.

Unfortunately, Christmas has become too commercialized and pleasure-centered. It has become just another reason to party.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a party pooper.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fun. In fact, for those who know – nobody parties like me.

Christmas should not just be a holiday, festival, or party time. It is about a spirit of giving.

Christmas is about our Creator giving His best to you and me. My very life is a gift from Him.

In turn, it’s about me giving my best to others.

When I give my best to others, I enrich my life and bring out the best from myself. It unleashes me to live at a higher plane of life.

It’s sad we judge life by what we have rather than what we give. We measure success by our possessions and not our contributions.

We are more focused on what we have gotten when we achieved our goals than what we have become.

Christmas is about giving myself to my family and loved ones. It’s about letting them know I’m there for them.

Giving myself is about giving time – not just quality of time but also the right quantity of time.

It’s about giving time to what really counts in eternity.

What really counts oftentimes cannot be counted. What truly matters may not be made of matter.

Take three of the most valuable gifts as an example. They are love, joy and peace.

In my own small way, I want to spread love, joy and peace to the people around me. These are life-giving virtues and they can light up the darkness in the world.

I have learned when I give to others, I can tap on our Creator’s unlimited reserve of physical, emotional and spiritual wealth.

What I gave away will also be returned back to me.

For example, when I share love, I will not have less of it. The love that has been shared will be multiplied many folds and returned back to me.

If I want to experience more joy and peace, I must share them with others.

I want to give and at the same time, share about the gift of giving to my children and to anyone who wants to live a fulfilling life.

I aim to celebrate the Christmas spirit of giving in my heart and live the spirit throughout the year.

I want to give before it is too late to give. Will you join me?

Look around you. There are many people who are weak, needy and disadvantaged.

If you cannot give to a thousand people, how about giving something of value to just one person this Christmas?


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please go to ‘Notes’ found below my profile picture.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

P/S: I am happy that My HSR organized a Christmas party for about 50 of our elderly friends living around My HSR Building. It was good to bring joy, fun and laughter to them.

As part of our weekly service, we also deliver food and ration to them. May their stomachs always be filled – just like yours and mine.

Blessed Christmas to one and all. Have the best year ever in 2012.


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