The calendar is creeping closer to the 25th of December. From carols on the radio to shoppers in crowded malls; from holiday parties to houses lit up red and green, Christmas in Canada is hard to miss.
When my parents and I first immigrated here from China, we didn’t really celebrate Christmas. It felt foreign. We didn’t have any emotional connection with Christmas traditions. How could we when we’ve never experienced any of it before? The stories, the lights, the presents– it belonged to people who grew up here, people who had family and friends to celebrate with, people who were not us. So we observed Christmas from a distance.
As the years passed, Christmas became more familiar, and it seemed like fun! Even if we didn’t believe in Christianity, maybe we could share the holiday spirit. My mom was a big supporter of celebrating Christmas. She bought Christmas decorations, put up a Christmas tree, and gave me Christmas gifts. My dad took a liking to hanging up Christmas lights. Since we didn’t have extended family in Canada, my parents would invite family friends over for a Chinese-style Christmas dinner, many of whom were immigrants like ourselves. One year, we even roasted a turkey.
Looking back, I think part of the reason that my parents (especially my mom) chose to celebrate this holiday was to provide me with a “Canadian” experience of Christmas. Because of these fond memories, I’ve grown to enjoy certain Christmas rituals, like putting up a Christmas tree, and eating delicious Chinese food.
When I was booking my ticket back home this holiday season, my mom confessed that Christmas didn’t mean much to her before, but now it does, because it’s when she would get to see me. I agree– Christmas wouldn’t be meaningful without my family. They gave me a reason to celebrate a strange new holiday when I was growing up, and I’m overjoyed to continue creating and sharing loving memories with them now.