“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before,” wrote Dr. Seuss. “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

With Christmas lights having gone up on Orchard Road in October and malls full of decorations, as well as sales from at least November, it can easily seem like Christmas here is only about glitz and shopping. Look a little further, though and there are plenty of opportunities to share the music, pageants and spirit of giving that make Christmas so special.

Music and Theatre
One of the true delights of the season is singing or hearing Christmas carols and watching Christmas pageants.

One of the best is the AWA International Holiday Choir Holiday Concert, which you can hear in the evening on December 6.

Malls want to bring shoppers in, so they also host Christmas concerts – and you can listen for free without shopping. The Paragon often has a cappella concerts, for example, while Tanglin Mall and others offer a range of music.

Many churches here also host performances of Christmas music. St. George’s Church will have 9 Lessons and Carols on December 2 and churches ranging from the International Baptist Church and St. Ignatius Catholic Church to St. Andrew’s Cathedral and a multitude of others have Christmas performances, too. Most are free, though donations are welcome.

Many of the churches also feature a Christmas pageant shortly before Christmas, so you can attend a performance to get in the Christmas spirit.

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra has its annual Christmas concert, a collection of music with a sing-a-long segment on December 14-16. A concert on December 7 features Mark Hayes’ What Sweeter Music, an arrangement of classic carols and original compositions.

Giving Back
Of course, Christmas is more than carols or pageants and giving embodies the true spirit of Christmas. Along with giving gifts to family and friends, you can help the community by giving back.

The Boys’ Brigade hosts an annual Share-a-Gift project for the community, giving to families in need by donating food at supermarkets island-wide and the US Marines here are partnering with AAS to collect Toys for Tots at The American Club on December 3.

As in many countries, the Salvation Army will have volunteers ringing handbells to encourage commuters to donate from late November until just before Christmas at MRT stations island-wide. You can also volunteer to help ring the bells or help needy families by donating goods at Salvation Army collection centers.

Making Gifts Meaningful
When you do give presents, you can make Christmas more meaningful by giving something other than store-bought gifts that may soon be forgotten. You can give something homemade such as a photo album or candles, for example, or create gifts at the Botanic Gardens’ Floral Arrangement and Christmas-in-a-Bottle workshops on December 15. You can write a letter telling a family member or friend how much you appreciate them. Or you can bake cookies and share them with neighbors.

While it’s easy to get caught up in shopping and parties and more, there’s plenty to do that will make Christmas more meaningful if you just look a little further than usual.

Richard Hartung, the Managing Director of Transcarta, is a freelance writer for Today, gtnews, Challenge, OOSSKAnews, The Asian Banker and other media, as well as the author of Changing Lanes, Changing Lives. He is also a consultant in retail banking, focusing on payments strategy and efficiency, with more than 20 years of experience in Asia.

Read the full publication online by clicking here.