My Chinese daughter-in-law is excited about her first American Christmas. All the preparations and decorations she sees on TV and in the stores remind her of the month-long celebrations of her own country and she is eager to join in on the fun of the season.
Chinese culture is big on the giving of gifts. One can never visit a home without giving a small token (most often food) to the host or hostess. Gifts preclude the asking of a favor and thank you gifts follow after a kindness is given. If two people exchange gifts and one outdoes the other, it becomes a competition and is usually followed by a second gift of greater value.
She is mesmerized by all the sales and ads, but I warned her not to let it lure her into buying something extravagant. I advised her not to let her old custom rule her American Christmas. The giving of Christmas gifts does not have to be expensive. It is always better to give something from the heart.
My husband’s family is Czech, so along with the traditional Christmas dishes, my mother-in-law serves kolaches and sauerkraut. My family serves tamales and buñuelos next to the glazed ham and the Texas pecan pie.
I suggested that she consider celebrating Christmas with a mixture of both cultures – American and Chinese, a holiday celebration that represents both of them. They could make yummy foods that remind them of their winter holiday and decorate their home with both cultures.
Isn’t that what we did when we first started our own homes and families? We combined the traditions of two families into one, and maybe we started our own. Once we decided what we wanted from the holiday, we all built on from there.