Simple but meaningful Christmas
Beatrice (standing) and her family.
29 Dec 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
Since the Covid-19 pandemic emerged it has disrupted many festive holidays in the world and Christmas is not excluded but this year, with the relaxation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Christian families were finally able to unite and celebrate the birth of Jesus in moderation.
Certain preventive measures from last year's Christmas celebration still applied for this year such as the ban of carolling activities, however, the obvious difference that can be seen this year is that all the majority of Malaysian citizens have been fully vaccinated.
Beatrice Jones from Kampung Tiong Ratau in Tamparuli said that their Christmas celebration was quite different than before Covid-19 hit the world as there were no more open houses and visiting activities among relatives and friends from afar.
According to her, one of the members, the celebration was only limited to immediate family members in order to observe the SOPs that have been set by the government.
"This year's Christmas was still lively although there were no visiting activities among neighbours and other relatives.
“What was important is that I was able to gather with family members. This year we gathered at a family's home from my mother's side.
“We celebrated Christmas in a simple but lively way with our mandatory activities such as exchanging gifts, among others," she told Nabalu News.
Beatrice noted that the celebration at the church was also very different from previous years as there were no activities in conjunction with Christmas - only a prayer ceremony on Christmas morning with strict adherence to SOPs.
She expressed hope that the pandemic will pass soon so that she can live a normal life without any fear and worry about the spread of Covid-19.
Christians in Sabah who celebrate Christmas on December 25 are allowed to perform religious activities at the church and receive guests at home with the presence of 50 per cent of the space capacity.
He and his family had a simple Christmas lunch at the lawn of their grandmother's house.
Meanwhile, in Membakut, Sean Bradley said he was thankful that all of his family members were able to gather during the celebration, including her aunt who came back from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and his cousins from Sandakan.
Covid-19 has taught him that time spent with family is valuable, he added.
"I am glad to be able to see them because I haven't seen them for so long due to the Movement Control Order (MCO). As Covid subsided, my aunt can finally come back from Dubai and my cousins from Sandakan can finally travel to Membakut to visit us.
"The happiest thing about our Christmas this year is that we were celebrating it for the first time with my aunt's husband from Algeria. He is a new addition to the family," said the 19-year-old.
For Rozel, her journey to celebrate Christmas at her homeland in Membakut was challenging as not only had she not been able to return to Sabah since the first nation lockdown in March last year, her house area was also impacted by the flood catastrophe that happened in the peninsular recently.
"The journey wasn't easy as the day before our flight schedule, our house area was impacted by the flood. Sleeplessness, fear, and worries were the only things that crossed our minds.
"My family and I had to stay up the night to ensure the flood did not flow into the house and get ready to move all the house furniture to the second floor. Luckily, the rain stopped, and the flood slowly subsided.
Rozel and her family during Christmas.
"We decided to head Airport. However, no vehicles dared to pick us up due to the flood. A delivery service app was then used, where we managed to choose a four-wheel drive as the ride," she explained.
Rozel said she also had to endure terrible traffics that happened after the flood as the flood badly impacted the main highway, including houses and cars.
Many were also stuck at the roadside and there were no more rules on the road, as vehicles moved in all directions where the floodwater reached waist level at the time.
"Luckily, we managed to find an alternate route but the furthest and safely reached the airport."
However, untoward events did not stop when Rozel reached the airport as she was accidentally late for her flight and the counter wouldn't accept their luggage drop.
Luckily, after doing some explainings, the airport staff hurried her to drop the baggage and asked her to sprint to the departure gate.
"At last, here we are again, at our Sabah hometown. I'm glad to be back and joined my family reunion altogether again for a Christmas celebration with simple yet meaningful activities such as annual exchange gifts and picnic at the beach."