A Christmas Story

This is the story of a high school sophomore who lived in California among palm trees and Trader Joe’s and 80 degree winters. She was also surrounded by a very concerning drought, which made things difficult when it came to building snowmen ,or even having snow at all. Manufactured snow for ski resorts didn’t count.

Luckily for her, Canada was there to save the day. Well, not exactly. Some of her relatives lived in Vancouver, “up north” where palm trees only existed on loud t-shirts and droughts were nonexistent. More importantly, snow was plentiful. It was a Christmas miracle.

But even the glittering fantasy of a white Christmas couldn’t hide the fact that she would be attending another awkward family dinner. Dinners with her family were a melting pot of everything — traditional Chinese culture, western customs that had been adopted by her immigrant grandparents, and a combination of religious and secular celebration.

She played enough board games and listened to enough Christmas music that night to last her a lifetime, not to mention the various conversations with her relatives surrounding classes and extracurriculars and the concept of middle school.

Ultimately, food was the magical item that brought the family together, as everyone pitched in to cook turkey and mash potatoes, frost cakes and bake pies. Three generations of her family crowded around the dining room table and assembled in a disorganized fashion for a toast to Christmas and family and snow.

They toasted to the end of 2015 and to the clean slate that New Year’s would bring while exchanging gifts and hugs and warm wishes. When the night came to an end, she said goodbye to all the relatives she wasn’t going to see until next year. She spent the remaining few hours of the night curled up on the couch watching TV, until she eventually fell asleep.

I’m leaving for Vancouver again in about a week, and I’m looking forward to seeing long lost relatives and helping to make food for Christmas dinner. I’m not really sure what this year’s reunion is going to bring, but if all else fails, at least I’ll still get to build my snowman.