'A gift and a lesson': Rebecca Lim and Elvin Ng reflect on 2020 this Christmas season
As the year-end holiday season approaches, is escapism on the cards for Becks and Elvin? What do their dreamscapes look like right now? And how has this bizarre year altered their perspectives?
For most of us, it’s been a pretty weird year. It felt like time slowed to a crawl; yet, 2020 seems to have gone by in a flash. Activities, plans and routines have been displaced. We’ve had to adjust to a “new normal”.
Rebecca Lim and Elvin Ng are familiar with that feeling. Even at this CNA Lifestyle shoot, Rebecca said, “it’s pretty surreal” that the Christmas season is here once again, “because where did the year go to”?
Turning reflective, she added, “I guess 2020 has been both a gift and a lesson”.
Elvin echoed the exact same sentiments. “This whole year has been like a lesson, and we learn to appreciate what’s closest to us, to look at it in a good way,” he said. He chooses to believe that “next year can only be better. I think we can come out tougher from this”.
In the meantime, both actors are more than content to stay safely cocooned at home, even if it means missing out on travelling for the holidays.
Elvin, whose birthday is two days before Christmas, said he usually takes off in December to celebrate the occasion, but this year, he’s staying grounded. (He was also supposed to film in Taiwan in November and December.)
“Previously, during my birthday and Christmas, I would feel a little guilty if my family was not with me. So, now is a good time to be with family,” he said.
Rebecca, being the giant homebody that she is, is just happy to have an excuse not to put pants on.
I can get away from the madness by staying at my grandparents’ – I staycation at their house sometimes! These are the kinds of things I treasure more than a holiday. – Rebecca Lim
During the “circuit breaker”, “I would love to say I picked up a new skill and worked out a lot, but I did none of the above. I did not even step out of my door. I just really enjoyed the time being at home in my pyjamas,” she said.
And, “It was kind of timely because my niece was born a few weeks before CB, so it was a blessing to be able to be at home to spend time with her and see her grow".
That time at home was so valued since “it’s not common for me to be at home because of my intense schedule for the past few years. Honestly, my mum said it took a while for her to get used to seeing me at the dining table for every meal,” she giggled. “It has been the only time in six years that I’ve gotten to spend so much time with my family – makeup free!”
Still, she does miss travelling for work, she conceded. She’s thankful that last year, she got to visit Malaysia, Korea, France and Italy on business. She’d been planning to maybe go someplace on vacation in March when she had a break between projects, but, well, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
If travelling were on the cards, she said, she’s dreaming of jetting off to either New Zealand or Greece. “Probably Greece – I’ve always wanted to travel to Santorini to see how beautiful it is, because it looks so picturesque,” she mused.
Previously, during my birthday and Christmas, I would feel a little guilty if my family was not with me. So, now is a good time to be with family. – Elvin Ng
Elvin gets a bit worked up when he thinks about how “there are still so many countries I haven’t been to”. If travel restrictions were lifted tomorrow, he said, “I’d go to Switzerland. I want to be in the snow, in nature, unobstructed. I think that’s what a lot of people would want right now".
He’s also fantasising about the other destinations on his bucket list: Norway, New Zealand, South Africa and the Maldives.
“Many of my friends say they feel cooped up in Singapore because it’s a small island. I think we look forward to open spaces like paddy fields, mountains and the sea,” he said. “I'm thinking, ‘When can I go?’ Someday, those dreams will be fulfilled. Just keep working towards that.”
What about a “Singapoliday”? “I don’t think so – with the number of Singaporeans going on staycations, it’s going to be super crowded,” he said. “Other than hotels, even now, all the islands and nature trails are crowded with people – and, of course, you’ll probably bump into Ah Jie Zoe Tay,” he guffawed.
Rebecca, on the other hand, said, “When I do have a break, I prefer to spend time in Singapore and catch up on lost time. To me, that is luxury – I don’t have to travel to get away. I can get away from the madness by staying at my grandparents’ – I staycation at their house sometimes! These are the kinds of things I treasure more than a holiday. For me right now, the focus is just work and family and saving up".
2020 has been a soul-searching year, but at the same time, everything I have is magnified more than 10 times in my life – Rebecca Lim
What’s she saving up for? “I don’t know!” she laughed. “Save up for a rainy day – whatever the rainy day is. And also, I guess I haven’t bought a place of my own, so maybe that. Maybe I’m a bit more old school – I feel more secure just having some savings in my bank. And, perhaps, maybe a business some day.”
DREAMING DAY AND NIGHT
If life does get a little stressful and she feels like she needs a bit of an escape, “I go for a long walk by myself – half an hour to an hour. I walk around the neighbourhood to the nearby park connector. That helps me relax, and at the same time I guess the endorphins help me feel a little better. If I really don’t have the time, it’s nothing some chocolate and ice cream cannot fix".
She added, “Simple stuff makes me happy. And also because 2020 really put things into perspective – what do you actually need? Which item you thought you needed was actually in your ‘want’ list? I was looking at all the bags that I bought over the years and had as gifts, and thinking, ‘I have all these bags but nowhere to go.’ Freedom is priceless".
Elvin finds escape in daydreaming – sometimes, about what kind of future he wants to have.
“I daydream about, let’s say, when I’m 50 or 60, maybe I’ll have a Bali resort with 10 bedrooms, and I’ll be living there in nature, probably in Ubud, facing the rainforest, listening to birds and insects. I’ll have a comfortable lifestyle while overseeing my small hotel – an exotic little marigold hotel – and people will come to my little bed and breakfast. I have dreams like that,” he said.
He’s quite a vivid dreamer while asleep, too. “Nightmares are exciting – they’re like horror films,” he said. “Once, I was faced with a shadowy figure, and I get violent when I’m scared, so I shouted really loudly and woke myself up! I also have sweet dreams in which I meet my soccer idol, Eden Hazard (formerly) from Chelsea.”
Rebecca, on the other hand, quipped: “The only dreams I have are dreams in which I’m waking up and I’m late for work. And then I wake up startled, and it’s like 4am".
A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES
One thing both actors agree on, especially at Christmastime, is that this year has helped them appreciate their blessings more than ever.
Although “I haven’t been able to lose the 4kg” gained during the circuit breaker, she chuckled, “You realise that health and happiness are so much more important that being slim and unhappy".
As artistes, we want to give something back and lead by example… I think many Singaporeans would probably have already done that or are doing something like that. – Elvin Ng
She continued, “There’s only longevity in authenticity. That’s what I really believe. I’m blessed I’ve been able to have this longevity because I am who I am – I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else, and there have been people around – like you! – who really appreciate the boring Rebecca that I am. 2020 has been a soul-searching year, but at the same time, everything I have is magnified more than 10 times in my life".
What’s more, “I never appreciated the sanctuary of a home that much until now – this year – where we’ve seen so many millions of lives around the world lost, just like that. You realise how fragile life is. Not just in the pandemic but you see news of people passing before their time. It’s quite an awakening year, I would say. Oftentimes we takes the ones closest to us for granted".
Elvin reflected: “Our job, a lot of the time, makes it about ourselves. We are the product. Sometimes, you can be a bit too self-absorbed. So I think it’s nice when we can give back – you learn to give out your energy and receive energy back,” he said.
This year, he visited and encouraged nurses at hospitals, participated in ongoing campaigns for the Autism Association of Singapore and, most recently for Deepavali, delivered meals to migrant workers.
“As artistes, we want to give something back and lead by example… I think many Singaporeans would probably have already done that or are doing something like that,” he said. “Doing these things makes me feel really bright for the day – I feel something has been set aglow in my heart.”
All items from ION Orchard; Photographer: Kelvin Chia; Senior producer: Shalini Selliah; Art direction: Chern Ling and Jasper Loh; Style editor: Serene Seow; Stylist: Daryll Alexius Yeo; Stylist assistant: Jeremy Tan; Makeup for Rebecca: Shaun Lee; Hair for Rebecca: Dexter Ng; Makeup for Elvin: Lolent Lee using Dior; Hair for Elvin: Sylin Yer/Shunji Matsuo. In partnership with ION Orchard.