20: Finding My Perfect Christmas

20: Finding My Perfect Christmas

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

Finding My Perfect Christmas

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.

~Andy Rooney

My parents were both born and raised in India. They married in 1976 and moved to Victoria, British Columbia, excited to start a new life together as Canadians. After my brother and I started grade school we wanted to share in the festivities of the holiday season that all our friends talked about with such excitement.

So my parents started their own version of Canadian holiday traditions, doing their best to create Christmas memories for our little family. Every year on December 25th we would wake up and eat a big breakfast, then get washed up and put on our finest outfits before we could even think about opening any of our gifts. We would then pose for coordinated pictures with the neatly stacked presents lined up under the tree. Everything was done in an orderly fashion, and we each patiently waited our turn to open gifts. It was the only way I knew how to do Christmas, and I waited for this day all year long. It was perfect for our family.

In my mid-twenties I married the love of my life and I was blessed to become a part of his wonderful family. He came from a background rooted in Canadian heritage with an upbringing very different from my own. For our first Christmas together as a married couple we flew on Christmas Eve from British Columbia to Burlington, Ontario to spend the holidays with his entire family. Still trying to overcome the three-hour time difference, we eventually got up on Christmas morning and groggily joined the family in the living room. Without wasting any time, everyone immediately dove into the stockings that Santa had left the night before. Then, after putting on silly elf hats, we jumped right in and started working our way through the giant mountain of gifts that were piled under the tree. Crumpled balls of wrapping paper were being thrown at each other, and the room was filled with chaos and laughter as the dog tried to dig out his doggy snack from Santa — which was hidden deep under the sea of gifts.

This Christmas morning was so different from anything I’d ever experienced — and I loved it. That night, as we were joined by aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to share a delicious feast, I felt that I had finally experienced a true Canadian Christmas.

Four years later, and home in Vancouver, we found ourselves in the middle of an exceptionally busy holiday season. Our daughter was now two years old, I was seven months pregnant with our second, and we were getting ready to move into a new house on December 22nd — just three days before Christmas. Thankfully, my in-laws came out to British Columbia to help with the big move, and planned to stay and spend Christmas with us in our new home. One of the first boxes to be opened as we unpacked was our Christmas tree. We got all of our decorations up so that we could be ready for Santa’s arrival two nights later.

Christmas morning arrived. With our young daughter, our unborn son still in my belly, and both sets of our parents there with us, we celebrated our first Christmas in our new home. Our daughter was the first and only grandchild for both families, and watching her sheer excitement that Christmas morning made all of us teary eyed. In that moment, as I looked around the room, it hit me. Surrounded by all the people I loved most, seeing Christmas through my young daughter’s eyes, in the home where we planned to raise our family, my heart completely overflowed with happiness. I had finally found my perfect Christmas!

~Ritu Shannon

Surrey, British Columbia

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