My name is Tricia Jose and I’m one of the co-founders at Arrive. My family and I moved to Canada from the Philippines when I was just two years old so I identify myself as a ‘first-generation Canadian.’ I have been a part of the amazing Arrive team since 2017!

To me, the holidays are all about spending time with loved ones!

Every year, I celebrate Christmas with my family in Vancouver which often includes lots of laughter, singing, good food, and good company. As is customary for Filipino families, our Christmas festivities take place on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Although our celebrations often last through the day as well. We start with a big dinner with the whole family (think: aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and more), and then wait till midnight to open presents! In the morning, we attend mass together. My whole family sings in the choir so that’s another family event for us! Afterwards, we all return home and continue eating the leftovers from the previous evening.

I wasn’t in the Philippines long enough to experience the holiday season there, but I’m told that festivities start as soon as Halloween is over; there is no Thanksgiving or Remembrance Day there. It is common for Christmas lights and Christmas lanterns (called ‘parols’) to be seen strung on every house on the block and carolers heard visiting and serenading homes throughout November. Another major difference is that the Christmas holidays are much hotter in the Philippines! The concept of a ‘white Christmas’ exists only in movies for Filipinos.

This holiday season I will be seeing and spending time with my extended family and friends from home and eating every delicious thing my mom makes. I can’t wait!

I find joy in giving back during the holiday season.

While I loved receiving presents as a kid (and don’t get me wrong — I still do), I’ve come to enjoy giving just as much as I love receiving. And therefore, I’m always finding ways to give back to the community during the holiday season.

During the holidays this year, I am particularly looking forward to volunteering and serving meals with my family at the Vancouver Men’s Hostel.

My advice to newcomers spending their first holiday season in Canada is:

  • Spend time with loved ones. If they aren’t in Canada, take the time to give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate them. A little gratitude goes a long way.
  • Find ways to give back! Volunteering helps build community and is a great way to pay any kindness you’ve received forward.
  • And here’s a fun one — Get out and enjoy the winter! For those of us from warmer countries, snow is a novel concept and being out in the cold makes for some amazing activities (like skating, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, etc) and photos. Best of all, the drastic change in environment is a visual indicator of the journey you’ve taken to come to Canada, so enjoy it and celebrate this incredible achievement! Just make sure you’re wearing a warm coat!

 

Have you read our other holiday blogs featuring Arrive team members?

 

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