I bet most people were too young remember their very first Christmas experience, but I do.
My first Christmas was in 2012, the first year I came to Canada.
I was born and raised in a country where 92 per cent of the population is Buddhist. I lived in a house where a fancy tree or pretty lights never went up in December. I was just another kid who Santa Claus may have forgotten.
Dec. 25 of every year had always been just another day to me and my family. We never celebrated Christmas or any other winter holidays.
When I was 15, I was accepted into an exchange student program. I got the chance to live with a host family and experience life in Canada. I finally got the chance to participate in all of the standard Canadian family’s traditions, including Christmas.
My host family was just as excited as I was. They had started talking about it since the first day I entered their home in September. They, along with maybe every other family in the western world, seemed to take Christmas seriously.
That November, I noticed all of a sudden there were decorations, lights, and Christmas carols popping up everywhere around town.
The holiday was creeping around every corner. Everything was new to me and I was just as excitied as a little kid would be. Santa Claus was actually coming to my town.
I learned how to bake and how to wrap presents. But I also learned how to be the perfect Santa. Shopping and hunting, trying to find the perfect presents for everyone on my list. At home in the kitchen I was trying to cook the perfect food. All of this taught me the true meaning of Christmas. The holiday is not about the presents under the tree nor is it about the food on the table.
Christmas is a gift in itself. It’s a gift because of the opportunities you get to spend time with the ones you love.
Sometimes, I think we get too busy shopping and forget that presents don’t always come in boxes.
Christmas that year was the first and the best one yet.