Dear People Who Don’t Celebrate the Holidays in a Traditional Manner,
I still remember when I told my college friends that I didn’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving with a big turkey, stuffing, or pumpkin pie. They reacted with disbelief and apologetic sympathy. A wave of pity seemed to wash over them and somehow, in that moment, I felt so very alienated.
Growing up as a first-generation Chinese American, we didn’t do the whole Thanksgiving turkey thing. We also didn’t have a Christmas ham, or egg nog (I tried it, it’s nothing to write home about), and if the holiday specials I watched were true, I certainly did not embark on a yuletide adventure with minimal adult supervision that led me to learn the true meaning of Christmas.
I didn’t get a TurboMan action figure, a BB gun, or a Barbie dollhouse. We didn’t hang stockings above the fireplace or put out a plate of cookies for Santa Claus. (Do places in the city really have a working fireplace?) But we did get a Christmas tree, and I did receive a gift from my parents who worked blue-collar jobs.
Our holidays were quiet. But you know what? A lot of people’s are.
Not many people celebrate the holidays the way that it’s romanticized in songs and movies. Only a small percentage of people have the means to go all out to afford to buy the fanciest toys or the newest iPhones.
Have you ever even seen a pack of Christmas carolers? And it doesn’t magically snow in California, no matter how hard you wish for it. Life isn’t a Christmas car commercial where someone gets a new range rover with a big red bow from November to January.
For a lot of people, the holidays can be the hardest time of the year. In fact, 64% of people said that they are affected by “the holiday blues” while 24% said that they are deeply affected. It can be an anxious season full of social stress and economical restraints.
The holiday season we see on the screen is not the holiday season that a lot of people experience. And that’s perfectly okay. As the children of immigrants, we can make our own traditions.
We are rich in culture and we can celebrate as uniquely or “traditionally” as we wish. We don’t have to eat fruit cake or hide a low-key scary plastic elf all over the house. We can eat succulent roast duck, crispy pata, or marinated galbi sans turkey. The season is about spreading love and joy, and we can all do that in our own ways.
From all of us at NextShark, we wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season, no matter how you celebrate it!
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