Mark believes many things. Broccoli and vegetables make you taller, if you finish your plate you’ll invariably get a piece of chocolate, monsters may take over the bedroom if mommy or daddy close the door shut, the number of gifts you get at your birthday is equal to your birthday age, if you go to the kitchen and shut the light off you are invisible to the world and can help yourself to daddy’s candy stash, etc.

Oh, and my personal favourite: mommy understands what dogs say when they bark. This started a day when Mark was whining and just as I was getting annoyed with his behaviour, a dog barked. “See, even the dog says you should stop right now!” I shouted. For months after that, Mark asked me to translate every single bark he heard.

So yes, like most four-year-old kids, Mark can’t always tell the difference between a dream, a wish, a fantasy and plain, old and boring reality.

But I’m not sure Mark believes in Santa.

Just a few days before Christmas, I caught him counting loose change on the table. “What are you doing with money?” I asked.

“I need it,” he replied. “I will give it so Santa for the presents he will bring me.”

“Oh, Mark…” I sighed, slightly heartbroken to see a little kid thinking about money. “Santa doesn’t need money. He brings you gifts because you’ve been nice. That’s his job. Once a year, he is generous and bring gifts without expecting anything in return.”

For days, Mark asked us what we wanted for Christmas. Note that he usually only gave us a couple of options—I had the choice between LEGO and a purple car the last time he quizzed me.

“I’m going to give you a gift,” Mark would promise me every time I did something extravagant, like giving him almost-empty bottles of shampoo in the bath (“bubbles! So many BUBBLES!”) or adding ketchup to his pasta. On the other hand, whenever I would act like mommy (“go to BED!”), I would hear “I’m not getting you any gift, then!”

The month of December basically revolved around gifts—imaginary, real, promised and confiscated. But despite the letter we wrote to Santa and the Advent calendar, Mark asked what I would get him for Christmas or what Feng would get me. I corrected him, inviting Santa again in the conversation … but yes, I’m not sure if Mark believes in Santa.

Santa certainly wasn’t invited in the classroom and the word “Christmas” was never mentioned at school. I get it, not everyone celebrates Christmas. However, I find it funny that Mark’s very multicultural daycare did have a Christmas tree and a secret Santa event while the school, definitely more WASP, doesn’t even utter the word “Christmas” in public. Instead, the kids had a “Holiday Party” (very inconveniently scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) and they sang songs about “flocons” (all the kids pronounced it as “faux con,” which I found hilarious) and bells. Note: I do not recommend attending a junior kindergarten holiday party with a 40°C fever and no caffeine in bloodstream.

During the first half of the month, we began the fairly smooth and predictable descent into winter weather, early sunsets and Christmas shopping. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant until it got cold—very cold. And of course, Mark got sick. It took several visits to several doctors and a week of misery and cleaning of bodily fluids to get a prescription for antibiotics. The following chapter was already written by then: Feng and I got sick as well. Not the typical “meh, I kind of have a cold” virus but the exhausting and never-ending virus that makes you wish you could just sleep for a week or two. I actually did stay in bed for a couple of days but we didn’t get better. For an entire week, I had a fever and my temperature was between 39°C and 41ºC. I was barely functioning and Feng wasn’t doing much better.

Eventually, on December 23, we went to the walk-in clinic. Feng was told to take over-the-counter medicine but he got some penicillin after begging the doctor for it. Then we went to another walk-in clinic for me. After waiting for a few hours, I was prescribed antibiotics as well. I also had the displeasure to meet one of the most unprofessional doctors ever. After asking me if I was married and if I worked, he blamed me for having “only” one kid and ended by telling me I would die alone when I admitted I smoked. Considering I was coming for a virus and I had no previous patient history with him, it was completely inappropriate and rude. While I fully expect health professionals (and the entire world) warn against smoking, absolutely no one ever quit after being threatened by a random dude. The five-minute interaction left me speechless. Good thing I was sick, I guess, I barely reacted.

That evening, we postponed the traditional Christmas dinner with my in-laws to December 25. On the evening of Christmas Eve, we realized that every restaurant was closed (even in Chinatown!) so Mark had a slice at Pizza Pizza and Feng and I had jiǎo zi at home.

But ultimately, December 25, Christmas Day, delivered the magic we needed. Presents were found, opened, tried and played with. Bat-Bear helped Mark on a LEGO mission while I was playing with my brand new camera (yay!). It was very cold but sunny and for the first time in a week, I didn’t have a fever. In the evening, we had dinner with my in-laws and I walked around in their neighbourhood, where the same people who go crazy with Halloween decorations put up an impressive display of outdoor decorations for Christmas.

And this is where we are at now.

If you celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a great time. If you don’t celebrate this holiday, I hope you had fun and found something cool to do!

Santa’s reply, a few days before Christmas
Santa’s reply, a few days before Christmas
Santa’s reply, a few days before Christmas
Mark’s snowman, a few days before Christmas
Some people are REALLY into Santa…
Mark looking for his presents on Christmas Day
Found them!
Opening the presents
Opening the presents: Bat-Bear for Mark, Tiger for Feng
Opening the presents
Opening the presents
IKEA floor lamp assembly? Can do.
Meanwhile, Marks works on a tower…
Eh, big human!
Bat-Bear and Mark doing the Star Wars LEGO
May the force…
Christmas 2016 (the timer of the new camera is perfect!)
Holiday donuts display at Tim Hortons
Coffee break at Tim Hortons, surprisingly open on Christmas Day
Lonely snowman at the Experimental Farm
Holiday treats at my in-laws
Christmas crackers at my in-laws
Christmas crackers at my in-laws
Christmas-themed houses in my in-laws’s neighbourhood
Holiday lights
Holiday lights, winter hat

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  1. Martin Penwald December 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Seriously, I think that this asshole of a doctor should be flagged to the hospital administration (or kicked in the nuts). It is so despicably rude to lecture people on their lifestyle.
    What is this discourse, by the way? A woman should bear as many children as she could? It stinks the standard religious misogyny of the right. Women are incubators, and should know their place under the male authority.
    And probably casual racism if he noticed that you aren’t married to a white man. “These savages should be forbidden to spoil OUR women”, which is the two-in-one classic package of misogyny and racism.

    About smoking, I was wondering if you’ve ever thought of vaping? It is probably better for a heavy smoker, a friend of one of my siblings is a kind of vaping geek, and smoked a lot before switching to e-cigarettes. He says that he gets the advantages of stop smoking, like getting back taste of food, more breath, and less nicotine intake, with a monthly lower price for his use. It seems really interesting in the case of heavy smokers. But it doesn’t seems that bad if you’re a casual smoker, except that the entrance price is higher because you need to buy the e-cigarette, and a good quality one, not the cheap ones, to have a good experience.

    1. Zhu December 27, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      I did voice my displeasure and tried to cut him a few times, saying “I’m sorry but this is not the place nor the time” and dodging questions but ultimately, I was feeling like crap and I needed the prescription. I’m glad Feng was with me at least. Racism… I have no idea. The guy wasn’t Caucasian (no idea what his background was) so I definitely wasn’t “his” woman. Misogynist and patriarchal, for sure.

      As for vaping, nope, never considered it. I don’t know why actually… probably because I don’t get what it is about! 😆 Like my former doctor says, I really enjoy smoking. I do. I’m a regular but still fairly light smoker. It’s not a social thing (none of my friends smoke, Feng doesn’t either), I just enjoy it. I try to keep it to a minimum and that’s the best I can do now. It’s my vice, probably the only one with coffee (don’t drink, zero interest in drugs).

      1. Martin Penwald December 28, 2016 at 12:09 am

        One of the advantage of vaping is that there is a lot different tastes to choose from, and you don’t have to go outside, in the Canadian cold, when you smoke, because it is not disturbing for others.
        However, like I mentioned, if your are not a heavy smoker, and the tag price being higher for beginning, it is not sure it is a good choice. Plus it changes the way you smoke, and old habits are hard to loose.

        1. Zhu December 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm

          Something to keep in mind, I guess. I never truly understood whether it was legal or not, and if it was just a marketing gimmick or an actual product.

          1. Martin Penwald December 28, 2016 at 9:20 pm

            I guess there are blogs about vaping somewhere.

          2. Frenchie au Canada December 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

            My other half stopped smoking over a year ago thanks to vaping. He started with an e-cig and juice containing nicotine. In the last couple of months he has switched to e-juice without nicotine at all. We got his e-cig from Scotland though since we found it hard to find quality ones here (then again we are in the middle of nowhere…).
            It has worked really well for him as a crutch to help him stop.
            I think the idea germinated when we went for our medical for our permanent residency but it was his 30th birthday that was the trigger.
            As you said though, if it’s something you enjoy, you probably won’t want to quit 🙂

          3. Zhu December 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

            I do like feedback and new idea though! But yeah, I enjoy it…

  2. Frenchie au Canada December 29, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Cute Xmas pics, and I’m glad everyone is feeling better!
    We didn’t do much and I didn’t take any photos bcse we spent a lot of time in our PJs. It was GLORIOUS

    1. Zhu December 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      PJ time sounds like the best Christmas ever 🙂

  3. Holly December 29, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Rubbish about that doctor 🙁 he was incredibly rude. I can’t wait until my girl can believe in Santa!

    1. Zhu December 30, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      I’m sure you will make it magical for her!

  4. Christiane December 30, 2016 at 6:37 am

    My son like Santa sometimes. He does not want to sit on Santa lap. I don’t think he fully get the concept which is fine with me. My parents told me early on that Santa did not exist (no chimney and no snow in Ivory Coast) so I knew I had to be good to get presents. Hubby forbade me to tell him there is no Santa so I’m playing along.

    Sorry about the rude doctor !! I had to deal with one too and I wanted to punch him in the face !!

    btw Merry very belated Christmas and Bonne annee !!

    1. Zhu December 30, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Sorry to hear you met a rude doctor as well 🙁 What’s your story?

  5. Christiane December 30, 2016 at 9:28 am

    so weird….I left a comment but I can’t see it anymore. can you see this one?

    btw sorry to hear about that awful doctor !! Suck a duck !!

    very belated Merry Christmas and Bonne annee!!


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