One popular Christmas carol says that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It probably is, when you imagine your entire family together seated around a table full of delicious food prepared by your mother or aunts, and your kids and your nephews and nieces are excited and giggling.
But if you’re an expat in a foreign country it doesn’t sound that wonderful, right? I’m an expat in Ottawa, and this is going to be my second Christmas away from home.
Christmas is a sensitive time for every newcomer or immigrant. Being far away from home takes its toll. It’s understandable that one could have the Christmas blues, especially during this time of restrictions due to the fast spread of Covid-19.
But there are ways to cope with those feelings. I’ll tell you mine.
Choose to enjoy a different Christmas in Canada. In my country, it’s summer and warm this time of the year, so I’m looking forward to seeing a so-called “white Christmas”. I’m crossing my fingers. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it snows on Christmas day?
I keep listening to cheerful Christmas songs, and my favorite these days is: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, sung by the Canadian Michael Bublé. I also listen and sing, and some days, even dance to, “Jingle bell rock”, “Santa Claus is coming to town”, “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree”, and “All I want for Christmas is you”, by Mariah Carey.
To keep the spirits high, I invited my kids to participate in the preparation of Christmas dinner. Each of them has chosen a plate and we’re going to prepare them together. It sounded like fun to them.
The pandemic has blocked efforts by newcomers to become involved in more social events, to meet new people, and to make new friends. This makes things more difficult. What can you do? One could join different groups on Facebook, for example. Have you joined a group made up of people from your country?
Some of these groups are more active than others, or they share better information. One such group is Newcomers in Ottawa. I ran into the group by chance on Facebook a few months ago, and found that it has an amazing vibe. https://www.facebook.com/groups/newcomersinottawa
It’s a very cool group of immigrants who aim to help each other by sharing helpful information, such as job postings, workshops, things to do or see in Ottawa, and all kinds of things that are useful in adapting to a new life in the capital city.
And they have a great plan: they have organized a virtual party on December 27th from 8 to 9 pm that will be a great opportunity to get to know each other, to celebrate the coming year, and to have some fun playing virtual games with other newcomers like us.
The participants will also have the chance to enter the photo contest – “Love Ottawa” – and share their photos taken during the year. The three best photos will win a prize!
The best of all is that this event is FREE, but they’re accepting donations for the Children Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). If you want to join this virtual event, you have to reserve a spot. Hurry up, because there’s a space limit!! https://newcomersinottawa.ca/2020/12/13/join-us-kick-off-2021-virtual-party-with-newcomers-in-ottawa/
Enjoy the Christmas vibe in the city
Downtown Ottawa becomes shiny and colorful at Christmas time and looks beautiful. The main buildings and landmarks are decorated with thousands of lights. The show is called, “Christmas lights across Canada” and it’s worth going to see.
Some of the best decorated places are Major’s Hill Park, the National War Memorial, Confederation Park, and City Hall, where you can make a stop at the rink of dreams to have some fun ice skating. There are skate rentals open until 10 pm.
Another traditional spot full of the Christmas vibe is Lansdowne in the Glebe neighborhood. You’ll find Christmas decorations that allow you to take cute pictures of yourself posing with the decorations that you can share with your loved ones.
In Lansdowne, you’ll see the biggest Christmas tree in town, and your children can deposit their letters to Santa in the special post boxes. Don’t forget your skates, as there is also a skating rink there.
A third Christmas spot not to miss in the city is Taffy Lane in the Orleans neighborhood. The neighbors of this quiet street get pretty serious when it comes to decorating their houses at Christmas time. Some houses really look like a Wonderland theme park!
These three places to see Christmas lights in Ottawa are free. But there are also other paid options.
I admire the spirit of the residents who enjoy decorating and illuminating their houses beautifully for Christmas. After Christmas, many of them keep their cheerful lights outside, in many cases, for the whole winter season.
That’s really a great way to cheer up the long Canadian winter.
So, what do you think of Christmas time in Ottawa? or in Canada in general? Have you been affected by the Christmas blues? Please share your thoughts. Take care
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