Our first Christmas in Canada was memorable. Now all the scenes of snow and ice which I had seen only on seasonal cards in New Zealand came to life. My two kids and I played in the early December snow. It was cold and gave us a hearty appetite. I could understand why you’d eat a heavy dinner on the 25th which included substantial helpings of turkey with gravy and Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
Our son was too young to be enthusiastic about Santa Claus but his sister at 3 was really excited by the whole kit and caboodle She admired the decorations and met the jolly guy in his red suit who appeared in the mall. She grasped the idea that he would bring her presents and could hardly wait for the big day. Of course she loved our little tree decorated with shiny ornaments and winking lights.
On the morning of the 25th, she had actually forgotten it was Christmas Day and we were able to feed the kids their breakfast before taking them into the living room and revealing the gifts. Our son’s eyes went immediately to the stuffed white elephant hanging on the tree. He said, ‘Pretty!’ and that became the animal’s name. It grew grey and grubby quickly which made Pretty rather a misnomer. When it was beyond washing, I replaced it with an identical model in blue but it never became his best friend.
We were invited for Christmas dinner by a kind woman who lived nearby/ The meal was served outside the kids’ normal eating time and they both became a little crabby about the delay and about missing their afternoon naps. I was embarrassed about their behaviour but they were both young. We didn’t stay as long as our hosts had intended but they were probably glad when we left. left their house.
That first Christmas was interesting but also made me very homesick. I missed my parents in New Zealand and my sister in Peru and thought about our summer traditions with sadness. The two celebrations in opposite seasons couldn’t have been more different. I was rather shocked by the commercialism of the season in Canada. The selling started so early and continued at such a frenzied pace. I thought that Canadian kids got too many presents at Christmas and I still think that way. Mind you, New Zealand kids tend to get too many now as well. Maybe it is a generation thing and I am old and grumpy and out of touch.
So, here we are this year in Canada for Christmas rather than eating a meal in New Zealand at a hotel with friends. We stared joining up with people who had no family in the country. It certainly eliminated the problem of cooking a meal for two people and was good fun. This year will be memorable as we are gathering at a new house up north. I hope it will be a noisy chaotic time with plenty of talking and laughing. Our extended family now number twenty three. A far cry from our beginning in Canadaover fifty years ago.