Christmas is still to come and it will be with us every year, forever and ever. For some of us, including yours truly, we like to think we can do very well without it. But can we? It is such an integral part of our lives/society/world. Sometimes we like to trash the very thing dear to us, because of one inexplicable reason or another.
I know very well why I do not cotton up to this idea of ’tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la. I hope I got the correct number of la’s in. I have always known why. It’s very tough to embrace another culture’s tradition as an eight year old immigrant. Back in the days of dinosaurs, as some of my younger coworkers would like to say, we weren’t as worldly and smart as kids now are.
For one thing, there was no such thing as the World Wide Web, cell phones or television that I knew of. Why, I was only acquainted with electricity for 2 years before we came to Canada, Gold Mountain, as the Chinese call it. I had no idea of what Canada meant. I was still enthralled by Hong Kong and its city lights. My mother and I had left our village only 2 years before.
In my child’s mind, the name Gold Mountain must have conjured up pictures of wealth. I remember visions of balloons and lollypops. So imagine my confusion as my journey progresses towards our final destination…Maidstone, Saskatchewan. I do not recall landing at the airport in Saskatoon. I do not recall how we got to North Battleford. It’s funny that I do not have any memory of it at all. I will have to ask my mother for those details.
I recall clearly that first time I stepped into my grandfather’s laundry. Sometimes I see in black and white, like those Hallmark occasions, those Kodak moments. They are forever frozen in my mind’s eye.
I stepped onto bare worn wooden floors. It was a big, plain room with a tall table against each wall opposite each other. They were the two tables on which my grandfather and his brother ironed and folded starch shirts for their customers. This was Gold Mountain?
A few days later, my grandfather put my mother, sister and I on a Grey Hound Bus for Maidstone where my father had a cafe with his cousin. I did not find any lollypops or balloons there. Nor was there running water. Though it did have electricity, I felt as if we had returned to our village in China, only that the inhabitants had long noses and pale faces! And I could not understand them when they spoke.
That was in early September. By December, I think I knew English and about Christmas of a sort.