Singapore Surprise

We spent three days in Singapore walking, tasting and exploring more of the city we visited earlier this year.  We are here in Singapore because we will be leaving in a few days for an Azamara Club Cruise to Thailand, Vietnam and ending in Hong Kong.

Shopping the tourist stalls in Chinatown


Singapore can be a very expensive city, but there are so many inexpensive options to explore the city.  We walked and took the MRT (subway) all around town for only a few dollars.  We avoided Raffles, the iconic hotel and home of the Singapore Sling because we don’t feel a need to spend over thirty bucks for a drink.  We enjoyed shopping (of course) and eating at inexpensive hawker stands with locals in Chinatown.  We tried a ramen bar, tasting the most delicious noodles and soup that don’t remotely resemble the Top Ramen I enjoyed during my college years.

Delicious ramen, a very tasty treat

On our final night in Singapore we visited Orchard Road, home to gorgeous high end retail and hotels and restaurants.  We were so surprised to see the opulent Christmas decorations.  As we walked past Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany we were delighted with the sights of Christmas everywhere.  At a Christmas village set up outside a mall we were treated to a Christmas violin concert by school children.  Singers were eveywhere singing Christmas songs and top hits.  The lights and sounds with the magnificent backdrop of the architecture  were such a treat to us and a true Singapore Surprise.

High end stores on Orchard Road decorated for the Christmas holiday
The holiday lights along Orchard Road

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Christmas Memories

I love Christmas and I always have.  As a child, I could not wait for Santa to arrive.  My family would decorate the house and go to bed early on Christmas Eve.  We would always put out cookies and buttermilk for Santa, because that’s what he liked.  While we were sleeping Santa would put up the tree and decorate it for us!  I really don’t know how my parents did it all.  No wonder my mom was always a bit stressed just before Christmas.  We had traditions as children, we would visit Santa, bake my mom’s delicious butter cookies, go to Christmas mass, decorate our house and have parties with friends and family.  But one of the most meaningful memories I have is my mom always finding the family that had very little and giving them special Christmas gifts.  We would wrap presents and bring them to a family that lived on the edge of town, or to the little boys that were in foster care, or to a young pregnant teen that had been kicked out of her home.  What my mom did was show us all the true meaning of Christmas.  My parents grew up in the middle of the Great Depression.  My mom was one of eight children and her own mother died when she was young.   She never forgot what it was like to be poor and hungry and she never forgot to give back to others.

Christmas in the 1960’s with my mom, sister and brother (the Native American)

At this time of the year we often stop to reflect and give thanks for all of the riches we have in this world.  I’m grateful for the health, love and presence of my family and friends.  Every year we have continued many of the holiday traditions our family started.  I host a holiday brunch with girlfriends where we enjoy shopping, french toast, mimossas and the company of good friends.  Together, my family hosts a Christmas party for friends from far and wide.  My kids bring their friends and everyone has a blast.  At the end the guests leave with some homemade Irish Cream.

When my kids were small I would often get lost in the hectic pace of Christmas, shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping gifts.  One day when my kids were driving me crazy my neighbor knocked on the door and asked if she could “borrow my children for a few hours.”  “Absolutely!” I replied.  She explained to me that the children were going to go house to house collecting toiletries for gift baskets for the homeless.  What a great reminder to me about what Christmas was all about.

Every year we look for a needy family or group and shop for them.  There is nothing that makes me happier than bringing some Christmas joy to others. I wish you all some Christmas Joy.