Growing up with newly immigrated parents was interesting to say the least. My parents had brought us here from the Middle East in an attempt to supply us with a better way of living. They weren’t totally foreign to the English speaking world since they had both gone to school in England (where they met and got married), but bringing us to Canada was a whole new ball game.
My parents had gone from Amman, Jordan to Red Deer, Alberta -a tiny little town just between Edmonton and Calgary. I was too young to experience the culture shock but I do remember seeing a lot of denim and leather all over the place (which is weird at any age). In an attempt to make us feel included among all of the other kids celebrating the different North American holidays and traditions, my sister and I were encouraged to participate in awkward events where no one really knew what was going on. I remember the first Halloween there, We had lived in an apartment building and didn’t really understand the concept of Halloween. My mom dressed my sister and I up as witches – a costume which consisted of a garbage bag draped over heavy wool sweaters and witch hats from the dollar store. We went around the apartment building knocking on doors yelling “TRICK AND TREAT”. No one really expected us considering the building was full of old people that thought they had escaped the halloween traditions by renting in a building, so our bags were filled with random hard candies and quarters.
On Canada Day, we went on “camping trips” but since none of us really had any camping supplies or knew how to even pitch a
tent, we would drive up to a wooded area, spend the day swimming, hiking and roasting marshmallows then pack up our little Ford Tempo and drive back home. it was pointless really but it gave my sister and I a chance to brag to our friends that we had gone camping over Canada Day weekend (we thought camping meant day trips to a heavily wooded area to do various outdoor actives). In all seriousness though, why would you want to sleep outside in the dirt when you can reap all the benefits of a camping trip then go back to your warm, cozy, bed? I blame my parents for my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to camping trips. To this day, whenever my friends suggest a weekend of camping my response is a loud “UGH”, they now know better than to suggest such malarky to me. If you want to go on a shopping trip and stay at a nice hotel though, I’m your girl.
So to all the families celebrating Canada Day today, whether born here or newly immigrated, have a Happy Canada Day filled with faux camping trips and awkward family photos.