Missing milestones due to Covid-19
With Covid-19, the new normal isn’t exactly that normal. Our lives have turned topsy-turvy with WFH arrangements, BTO delays, and not being able to leave the country to quell our wanderlust. Perhaps worst of all, we haven’t been able to properly celebrate life’s milestones.
Yet, life goes on. There’s nothing left for us to do but make the most of what we have. And for many of us, that includes blessings in the form of support from our friends and family. Birthdays, graduations or weddings – whichever it is, these three Singaporeans share how their loved ones came through despite the ongoing pandemic.
1. Celebrating your child’s first birthday
Baby Shane came into the world at a strange time – his dad wasn’t even allowed to be in the operating theatre when he was born. And one year later, not much has changed: his family was forced into celebrating his first birthday with Heightened Alert measures in place.
Image credit: Yong Ernn Teo
His mum Yong Ernn says that “it was quite a disappointment time after time”, especially since full-fledged plans had already been made with party food, balloons and goodie bags all ready to go.
As a tight-knit family, their milestone celebrations typically extended to their grandparents, cousins and other relatives too – involving at least 21 people. At least, that’s the way it’s been for the last 30 or so years till Covid-19 struck.
Although they weren’t allowed to have any visitors, Yong Ernn and her family still decorated her house for a mini-photoshoot to celebrate Shane’s birthday.
Image credit: Yong Ernn Teo
Instead of cancelling or postponing Shane’s birthday party, Yong Ernn and her husband decided to hold it over Zoom. As avocados are Shane’s favourite food, it was a themed party with desserts and goodie bags that were all decked out in avocado motifs.
Despite not being able to meet physically, their family came through and with the help of Zoom, everyone was able to come together virtually for this milestone celebration.
There were specifically planned party events on the itinerary, such as the usual birthday song and even a lucky draw to cheer them up during this Covid-19 situation. Prizes included rice, instant noodles and unsurprisingly, toilet paper.
Wearing their avocado t-shirts over a celebratory Zoom call
Image credit: Yong Ernn Teo
Their extended family also surprised them with a special delivery of avocado t-shirts to each household. As Yong Ernn describes, “It was a really sweet gesture as it showed how everyone still wanted to be a part of this celebration”. While it was only a 30-minute Zoom call, it was still “fun and engaging” and logistically, “less challenging given that everything was done at home”.
She also likes how the entire party was recorded, so she and her family members could go back and view their memories together whenever they wanted. As Yong Ernn puts it, the entire birthday shindig was highly memorable and she “wouldn’t have done it any other way”.
2. Graduating from poly
As we all know, graduating is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. For Marcus, he was simply “relieved and glad” that even despite Covid-19, he was still able to walk on stage to receive his diploma. He might have missed out on the “usual grand scale” affair one would expect from a graduation, but he still recognises it as an important milestone.
He shares why a graduation ceremony is important to him:
“I now have completed a phase of life that I spent the last 19 years complaining about. It’s also important to me as it allows me to look back and see how far I have come and grown.”
Reminiscing over shared memories before the ceremony
Image credit: Marcus
But despite the pandemic, Marcus still made the most of his graduation and made sure to celebrate with his friends and family – keeping within the Phase 3 pax limit at the time. He spent the weeks before the ceremony meeting up with different groups of friends to reminisce over their shared memories of poly, and to “just enjoy the company of each other”.
For the ceremony itself, there were new restrictive guidelines such as keeping to a hasty 45-minute photo session, and not being allowed to bring along the usual two guests.
That said, Marcus still appreciates how his polytechnic had gone the extra mile to make his graduation “memorable and unique”, especially that he was “still given the chance to walk on stage and receive my diploma”, while other institutions in Singapore and abroad made do with purely virtual ceremonies.
Working around the 45-minute photo session by taking photos at a nearby park
Image credit: Marcus
One plus that came out of all this? The entire graduation ceremony was live-streamed with an unlimited number of viewers, so more of his friends and family could virtually attend the ceremony.
Marcus also mentions that both his parents are busy civil servants and even before Covid-19, they might not have been able to attend the ceremony anyway due to their work commitments. He also points out that the virtual livestream is an unexpected bonus for larger families, since everyone can now celebrate together without worrying about the limited invitations.
3. Getting married with a 10-person limit
Pailin and her partner have always wanted a small wedding, but being forced to play by Covid-19 wedding guidelines wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. It was in the midst of Phase 2 then, and they had to keep it to just 10 guests for their solemnisation ceremony at home. She shares that they initially wanted a small destination wedding with just their immediate family:
“About a year before Covid, we took 2 weeks off to go around Melbourne to check out possible wedding venues. We both finished uni there so it’s always been a bit of a sentimental place for us. We even toyed with the idea of flying our families out for a small ceremony.”
Their dream wedding venue in Melbourne
Image credit: @lakehousedaylesford
They’d already settled on the date of 10/10/2020 – besides being a memorable date, it also marked their 10.5 years together. Then, Covid-19 hit and they were forced to reconsider. Since Pailin’s immediate family lives in Thailand, it was a tough choice between postponing the event indefinitely, or sticking to the original date and making the most out of the many restrictions set in place.
She shares that “we were already engaged for a couple of years, so we both decided that it was time to bite the bullet”.
So they went ahead and planned the full works: floral, food, photography and even hair and makeup artists. The maximum number of 10 guests turned out nicely too for “the intimate wedding we always wanted”, with the two surrounded by their closest family and friends.
Image credit: Tan Wen Lin/John Lim
Or at least, those who were based in Singapore since Pailin’s immediate family couldn’t be there. They had arranged to have a Zoom call with her family, with the laptop set up right in the middle of it all, but it was a bit of a flop and disconnected halfway through. Yet, she says it was still “as if they were there on the day itself – for a little while at least”.
While it wasn’t what either of them had planned for their solemnisation, in the end, “it was equally meaningful to have it at home anyway”.
Celebrating life’s major events despite Covid-19
There’s no need for a massive birthday party or fancy wedding when it’s the little things that matter most – your friends and family being there for you. Although we might be restricted by Covid-19 measures, a silver lining exists in the fact that it now means even more when our loved ones go the extra mile to show that they care.
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Leah collection (L-R): Leah Earrings ($618) and Leah Necklace ($388)
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Twinkle collection (L-R): Twinkle Trinnie Pendant ($358) and Twinkle Trinnie Earrings ($548)
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Swing Star collection (L-R): Dewdrop Pendant ($268) and Satine Earrings ($458)
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This post was brought to you by Lee Hwa Jewellery.
Photography by Pepita Wauran.
Cover image adapted from (L-R): Yong Ernn Teo, Marcus & Tan Wen Lin/John Lim.