The festive holidays are an exceptional busy and fulfilling time of the year for families and especially for newbie parents, it is a time for family bonding and making memories.
For 88.3JIA radio DJ Shu Hui, the holiday seasons are a magical experience for her 2-year-old daughter, Penelope; the awe and wonder of the Christmas lights, starting new family traditions, and coming together to celebrate with extended family and friends.
We find out how her family celebrates the holidays as she recollects the joyful festive moments in her new and exciting journey as a parent.
Q: How have Christmas and Chinese New Year celebrations been for you since Penelope came along?
Shu Hui: I’ve been doing more shopping since she was born because there are so many adorable clothes options for girls! She was Santa’s little helper last Christmas, and I’m toying with the idea of dressing her up as Rudolph this year. I hope to get matching outfits for the family for the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) too!
As Penelope was born during the Covid-19 pandemic, she didn’t have the chance to meet many of our relatives in her first year. Thankfully, we could do so when the restrictions eased, and she enjoys the company of her extended family (and three dogs) during gatherings. This also means I’ll have to rack my brain to figure out how she should address her elders during the CNY visits, haha!
Q: What is your favourite thing to do at Christmas with the family?
Shu Hui: Catching Christmas lights and decorations around the town for sure! Penelope likes all things colourful and sparkly, so it’s really cute to see how her whole face lights up when she sees the dazzling displays. It’s also a great chance to take snaps with beautiful Christmas trees as we don’t have one at home.
Q: Is there any holiday tradition or holiday memory that you recall fondly?
Shu Hui: I’ve always loved CNY since young because I get to wear new clothes, collect red packets and eat plenty of goodies! My late grandmother would prepare red glutinous rice chicken mee sua for us on the first day of CNY – it’s like an “official” dish to kickstart the celebrations. Dinner was sumptuous as well, with other of her signature dishes like Fuzhou fishballs, ngoh hiang and braised meat. Needless to say, food is my family’s love language!
Q: Is there any holiday tradition that you have begun with Penelope?
Shu Hui: Blasting Christmas and CNY songs at home to get maximum festive vibes! We would teach her the songs and although she can’t quite sing them yet, she loves grooving to the infectious beats. Last year, her favourite songs were “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “Heng Ong Huat” – I wonder if she will have new favourites this year?
Q: Can you share what is the most meaningful gift you have ever received for Christmas?
Shu Hui: My husband surprised me with a personalised photo calendar last year, which was filled with our family photos and lovely quotes about family. I hung it up in a prominent spot in the living room, and just looking at it makes me smile. It was a really sweet gesture because I totally didn’t see it coming!
Q: Any favourite place to be during the holidays?
Shu Hui: I haven’t experienced snow, so I would love to visit Santa Claus Village in Finland or Hokkaido in Japan with my family someday! I know it can be a hassle to pack for a winter holiday and snow can be messy, but there’s something magical about playing in the snow and huddling over warm food and drinks after that. My husband is not a fan of the cold though, so I will have to convince him first!
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Q: Because Christmas is all about celebrating joy, can you share the joys that come with parenthood since you are a first-time parent?
Shu Hui: Parenthood is really tough, but also very rewarding. I get to see Penelope learn and grow little by little every day, and it is amazing to see their personality take shape. She’s only two now, but I’m looking forward to see what kind of person she’s going to grow up to be.
I also get to do some really fun stuff with her, like going to the zoo or indoor playground and enjoy them as much as she does. It can be pretty cathartic for us adults too!
Last but not least, motherhood pushes me to grow as a person, be it learning better time management or overcoming impatience. It makes me think about my actions and the kind of role model I want to be, which in turn makes me a better person.
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Follow Shu Hui on Instagram @883shuhui for more of her sunshine vibes!