A Diaspora’s Christmas

Taken on University and Elm, Toronto @ Novembe...

Santa is here...what now!

Christmas is here and it’s once again time to be cheerful. This year the Christmas lights seem grander and flashier in an attempt to outdo the previous year.  Last weekend was the Cary parade and it did not disappoint. It had more than 200 entrants. I counted 4 matching bands and several Santas on floats.  Even Elvis was there shimmying and pointing in his tight alabaster get-up.   Feet started hurting as the  50th group that went by. By the time the 60th group was coming, I had lost all my goodwill and pretty much decided I would be better off resting than waiting for the grand finale.  The erratic behavior of my son and his friends confirmed that perhaps this was as good a show as we could take. They had ceased all real and fake interest in watching the parade. The awe they had originally expressed with each passing float gave way to a chorus of repeated inquiries as to when we would leave. Then, resigned to their fate of having to enjoy the parade, they took to running in circles around a tree. I gave up after the 70th and rounded up my relieved passé.  We headed home glad to be embraced by the welcoming embrace of the soft couch in the living room.

Once home, my husband and I reminisced on long ago Christmases from another world.  A Diaspora world where the lights and show came from the glow of the fire as it slowly crisped the barbecue meat that we would all enjoy.  My husband and I laughed as we recalled our shared experiences of having a goat or chicken brought home as the family gift that would be enjoyed by all. I tried to picture my son’s face if I told him that instead of the latest gizmo he was currently fantasizing about getting, he would get to enjoy food with us on that day. Or that we would be getting him a new outfit that he could wear to school or special occasions.

For the Diaspora, Christmas takes on new meaning as the commercialized aspect of the holiday demands funds be sent  to their country of origin for  families to have a taste of the Western interpretation of the holiday. Gone are the days when simply traveling to spend the holiday break with relatives was enough. Gone are the pragmatic days when it was enough to get a new outfit or a pair of shoes that would be used in the coming year.

Capitalization of Christmas ultimately means that even this holiday designed to get families together to celebrate; a class system is bound to emerge complete with its own one percent of people giving and receiving lavish gifts and those who do not receive anything during this holiday. It’s no longer going to be ‘who did you spend your holiday with’ but rather, ‘what did you get for the Christmas?’

I can’t help but wonder what the impact of commercialization of Christmas is going to be on the Diaspora as they struggle to meet the rising demand for gifts during the holiday. Not only do they have to shoulder the responsibility of celebrating the holiday as it’s done in the west, but they have to meet the demands from their relatives back home.

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