Celebrating 2 Christmases & 3 New Years
Growing up as a first generation Canadian had its advantages. I still was exposed to the cultural and religious beliefs from my parent’s cultures. I had all the modern conveniences which I would not have had, had I been born in China or the Ukraine. My parents encouraged me to explore my world. To look beyond what we see with our eyes. I was given a chemistry set, a microscope, an electronics kit, even a basic computer kit, which didn’t do more than light bulbs, but it was intriguing. I also had pets growing up, which helped teach me responsibility for other sentient beings, from tropical fish, to a hamster, to a German Sheppard who was happiest when we were out exploring the neighbourhood. My mother and father ensured I learned to read, and developed a passion for it while young, with my own well used library card. I was the envy of most of my friends, with 2 Christmases, and 3 New Years, every year. The Christmases were different. The December 25th was one we traveled for family get-togethers, as it was a legal holiday. The Ukrainian Christmas was a traditional meatless dinner and, when I was able to open most of my presents. December 31st I was able to stay up to see the New Year arrive. Ukrainian New Year’s Eve was a reflection on the past year, and a time to plan for the upcoming one. Chinese New Year’s Eve was a night that started, with going to the Lychee Gardens for supper with some of my Chinese cousins, aunts and uncles. Then it was off to one of our houses where us kids played, while the adults talked. I mention all this because, I was talking with a friend, and we were talking about families with 2 or more cultural backgrounds, and which ones to follow. My parents raised me to respect not only my family’s cultural values, but those of our neighbours as well. There was never judgement in their attitude as to which was best or correct. My dad used to repeat the old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. Yet my parents still lived according to their values, within the external world. I know realize that they allowed me to experience all of them, and decide which ones to follow.