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 Local

Multiracial family joyfully celebrates Christmas

28th December, 2015

By ERIC BAGANG Eric@newsabahtimes.com.my

PAPAR: Briton, Ashley James Shirlin flew halfway around the world to celebrate Christmas with his Muslim family in Sabah.

Although travelling alone, he said the journey was worth it as his Christmas was entertaining and he was able to meet his relatives.

He also enjoyed the party because it was held outdoors.

“In England, we’d be shivering in the cold because the temperature there is around two to three degrees Celsius, so you can’t have outside parties.

“The party was a family gathering where some of us whose birthdays fall in December, January and February were also celebrating our birthdays, so there were 12 cakes, some are decorated with Manchester United and some with Liverpool, which were put on different tables, they don’t mix,” he quipped when met at the Papar Christmas open house at the Community Hall on Saturday.

The Englishman’s visit was also to see his stepmother who is not well and who happens to be Deputy Works Minister, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin’s mother.

“The main reason I came over here is to see my stepmother because she’s been quite ill but I usually come to Papar once a year.

“The first time I came to Sabah was in 1972 and I arrived a day after Rosnah was born, so I really have known her all her life,” he said, adding that he has come to the state more than 20 times to visit his stepmother, sister, and four brothers.

Shirlin said that the family has strong bond where his children have also visited Sabah, and his brothers and sisters have also visited him in England.

“The different religions have never caused any problem. I’m Christian but that has never been an issue between us so the only problem I suppose was my mother who was Christian wasn’t too happy with my father when he became a Muslim. That was 50 years ago but that doesn’t matter.

“We all get on very well indeed, of course occasionally there are squabbles but you get that in any family.

“We’ve never had problems. Some of the family here has been to England. Apart from Rosnah, two of my other brothers have been to England.

“Actually the only friction I suppose is the fact that two of my brothers support Manchester United and I don’t, so that’s the only area where we disagree,” he joked.

Speaking of the Christmas open house, Shirlin said that he was fascinated to see people of different races and religions come together to participate in the celebration.

“That’s the other reason why I keep coming back,” he added.

   
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