How to Host a Christmas Dinner in Singapore
Somehow, despite not having enough furniture and not knowing how to cook, they pull it off.
Right now, the guests are just arriving. Everyone has been told explicitly not to bring presents. “Just food will do!” they’ve been emphatically reminded in the week before the party. And now they understand why.
(Pro-tip: If you don’t know how to cook, ask your friends to bring food instead of presents.)
“We’ll move in by December for sure,” Mark had told her 6 months ago. Back then, it seemed perfectly reasonable. Who knew it would take this long to lay a bunch of tiles?
(Pro-tip: Fairy lights make everything look better, even if you don’t have furniture or tiles.)
Yet these thoughts and feelings pale in comparison to the smell of fresh paint and newly varnished wood—smells that are not just sensations in our noses, but also the beginnings of new memories.
“I used buttermilk in the batter this time,” he says, beaming with great satisfaction. Paul works in finance and spends most of his week crunching deals in the CBD. He’s also the group’s resident youtube chef.
Peter, the only guy in the room who actually cooks for a living, retorts, “Dude, people have been doing that since forever.”
Having spent nearly his entire life in restaurant kitchens, he doesn’t cook unless he’s at work. And so he’s usually the one who brings the drinks.
No one really knows what to say at this point. But as Mark and Elie begin unboxing new cutlery to be used for the very first time, rumbling stomachs begin to distract from affectionate teasing. Mark sets out the roast pork and the smells of warm food released from cling wrap reminds everyone how nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Never mind that it came from six different kitchens.
(Pro-tip: Roast pork (or sio bak as we call it in Singapore) is way easier to prepare than a fully stuffed Turkey. And in opinion, tastes better too.)
“You read my mind,” Mark says as he stops what he’s doing to walk over with an empty glass.
“The best thing about whisky,” Peter says as he pours, “Is that you can drink it any time you want.”
Something’s a little different about what they’re having this time. It’s a little spicy with a hint of sweetness. “There’s definitely chocolate in there,” one of them says. “And ginger perhaps.” In response, the other just shrugs—his way of saying he has no complaints. Between them, a wordless question passes. Should they share it with the rest?
(Pro-tip: A good bottle of whisky, such as The Macallan Edition No.2, will pair better with Christmas food than anything else.)
Everyone knows it isn’t worth pointing out that Mark had just barely kept his promise.
Elie picks at the remainder of her dessert, the remnants of a smile still lingering on the corner of her lips. Next to her, Mark wonders if this new space of theirs is in fact too much space for two. The tinkling of piano keys drifts out from a speaker, gently bouncing off the walls. And in a corner somewhere, there is a small chip where the painters had been a little careless.
And the thoughts at the dinner table are now with all those moments where they never thought they could make something happen. Where the stars seemed as though they refused to align, where all the ingredients were wrong and the timing was dreadful.
Yet tonight’s dinner is proof that sometimes, it doesn’t matter.