Surprised by kind strangers
With their hands full caring for their ill son and worried he would catch a virus, Mr Lam Kam Choy and his wife intended to skip the Christmas festivities, including putting up a Christmas tree in their home.
But the Lams ended up with an unforgettable yuletide season, including a tree in their living room, which neither of the couple put up.
It was all thanks to the kindness of strangers.
The New Paper first spoke to Mr Lam and Madam Lowell Tan about their son last month, when they took to a crowd funding site to raise money for the then-19-month-old, who suffers from a degenerative neuromuscular condition for which there is no cure.
They also have a daughter, who is three years old.
They raised enough to pay for the multi-positioning chair their son needed, which recently arrived at their home.
Touched by their story, strangers reached out to them in unexpected ways.
Madam Lynda Toh, 41, delivered a child-friendly, 1.2m tall Christmas tree to their home this month, adorned with Care Bears, candy canes and lights.
She had approached Madam Tan online after reading her blog chronicling her journey with Caelen and the two women set up a meeting.
Said Madam Tan, 34: "Madam Toh and her friend brought me lunch and coffee, presents for the children, books, a Christmas tree and ornaments.
"It was our first meeting and I was overwhelmed by their generosity.
"They stayed to set up the tree and kept Caelen entertained," said Madam Tan, who bought a cardboard gingerbread house to "complete the look".
The housewife, who was initially reluctant to set up a Christmas tree, said: "Once we started doing all that, I felt the warmth and Christmas spirit immediately."
Doctors had told the couple that Caelen was unlikely to live beyond the age of two.
He has not outlived the prognosis yet, but they remain hopeful.
Said Madam Toh, 41, who works in customer service: "When I read her blog, my heart ached for her and Caelen.
"The simple things we take for granted, like walking and running... this little boy doesn't have that.
"Caelen is so young and very cute, which makes it even more heartbreaking to know he doesn't get to do the simple things in life," added the mother of two children aged three and six.
"What I did is nothing at all compared to Lowell's love for Caelen. It was her love that touched my heart."
Said Madam Toh: "In her blog, (Madam Tan) mentioned they go out only once every two months, so I wanted to bring the Christmas spirit to them."
The surprises for the Lam family did not end there.
Last week, Madam Tan's children were also treated to a shopping spree at Toys "R" Us, thanks to a TNP reader Simon Loh.
Said Madam Tan: "Initially, the kids didn't know where they were going and what they were going to do.
"Once they were at the toy store, my daughter started grabbing everything she wanted. We were busy distracting her and putting the toys back," Madam Tan said.
"We don't usually take them to the toy store. It was one of the few times where my daughter could buy whatever she wanted."
Another reader, polytechnic student Collin Chia, touched the Lams in a nonmaterial way - by writing in to the Early Childhood Development Agency to inquire about schooling opportunities for Caelen.
Sending Caelen to school was one of the items on Mr Lam and Madam Tan's wish list.
The second-year business management student at a polytechnic told TNP he intended to "spread some joy and a little surprise" with his gesture.
His actions impressed and touched the couple, who thought that Collin was wise beyond his years.
Said Madam Tan: "Most people would have donated money, but (Collin) went a step further. He took the initiative to help us inquire. That saved us a lot of trouble.
"We were surprised that he's a polytechnic student. Most of them don't think this way at their age.
"It turned out to be a very warm Christmas - one that's really full of love, full of joy and full of sharing."
It was our first meeting and I was overwhelmed by their generosity. They stayed to set up the tree and kept Caelan entertained.
- Madam Lowell Tan