What Christmas Means to Me-By Dylan
Every year, when I was living in Canada, the deepening coldness of a late Autumn day will be sufficient to transform what should be a rain-filled sky into one covered with little, white, semi-floating creatures. In the early stage of this transformation, a few of these snowflakes, along with their friends, will waltz with the wind before invariably landing on my uncovered head, delivering icy chills to my scalp along with a warm reminder that Christmas is near.
But what exact thoughts of Christmas actually fills my mind after it has been prompted by these little visitors? The answer can be found in the faded photograph-like images residing in the memory region of my brain.
I remembered the Christmas season being special to me from the time that I was a school-age child because it meant a long break from classes and thus, homework. However, because my family was just beginning life in Canada at that time, we did not attach anything special to the Christmas holiday. So my time off from school was mostly spent sitting cross-legged on a rug in the middle of my family's living room, watching Christmas-related cartoons on an old, wood-encased television. Why I was so fascinated with the animated stories of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a mystery to me now. But I do remember watching show after show, lasting for hours sometimes.
Treating Christmas time as a normal period became a thing of the past, when one day I came home and noticed an unfamiliar box in the corner of the living room. Contained in it were parts of a small, plastic tree with some simple ornaments, tinsel and a set of flashing lights. For whatever reason, my parents had decided to invite a Christmas tree into our home and my brother, my sister and I would ensure that our guest, in its assembled form, would make an appearance in our living room each and every winter from that day on.
For the first few seasons that our little Christmas tree provided company to our television set in my family's living room, it stood lonely as no presents were ever warmed its feet. But that again changed when one Christmas morning, I had to rub my eyes to clarify whether three gift-wrapped boxes were actually resting under the tree or whether I was still asleep.
As I entered my teenage years and starting delivery newspapers as a part-time job, I started to contribute to the packages that began to appear beneath our tree every Christmas season. As did my siblings. Soon, under the little green fellow, the gifts and cards from my family members were fighting for space with the ones from my relatives. As well, despite busy schedules, it became customary for everyone in my family to eat together on Christmas night. For one dinner, my mother even tried to roast a turkey for us. It was the first time, in the first 50 plus years of her life, that she had attempted to cook this bird but she wanted to make that Christmas meal even more memorable by serving us its traditional main course.
Beyond my family, the other unerasable images of Christmas that are embedded in my mind came from when I was living and working in downtown Toronto as a young adult. As I strolled to work through this area during Christmas time, from street lights hung green wreaths tied with red ribbons. In the lobbies and on the lawns of hotels stood gigantic, magnificently decorated trees. With every peek in the search for the perfect Christmas gift, window shoppers could not escape the beaming smile of a paper Santa Claus or one of his little elves. Almost everywhere, customers and cashiers ended their transactions with exchanges of "Merry Christmas." It was a magical a time as any.
Understandably, my memories of Christmas appear to paint just a picture of a holiday filled with white-haired Santa Clauses, evergreen trees and colourful everything else. And sometimes, when I reflect upon the meaning of Christmas now, I am amazed at how a religious holiday is yielding more and more to a holiday that has become the busiest shopping time in the year and consequently, the lifeblood of many retailers. It would seem that commercialism has either bastardized or enhanced, depending on opinion, what originally was a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
However, whenever my attention becomes captured by glistening tree ornaments, shiny paper-wrapped presents, or any other symbol that is now associated with Christmas, I realize that symbols are just that – a representation of something more substantial. I believe that these material objects are just manifestations to celebrate an immaterial force which is the real meaning of Christmas. It is a force that inspired my parents to add colour to their children's lives and impelled my mother to embark on a culinary adventure for her family. The name for this power is now commonly referred to as the Christmas spirit. It is this humanistic emotion, sometimes dormant in us but unmistakeably awakened during the festive season, that reminds us of our potential for warmth and compassion towards others, even when we are surrounded by the relentless coldness of the outside world. This is what Christmas means to me.
Reporter: Yang Jingyi
Editor: Wang Yunqian