Our First Multicultural Christmas Together

January 8, 2017

Dear Readers,

A week has passed in the New Year and I’m already up to so many goals! And my 2017 ended in the most remarkable way!!! But before I start discussing what I want 2018 to look like, I’d like to recap how 2017 ended.

For those of you who doesn’t know, Jason and I shared our first Christmas and New Year’s Eve together!!! I learned quite a few things from this experience. Since Jason is Chinese, and I’m Filipino, the way our families celebrated the holidays were so different. I want to share with you all what a Chinese Christmas is like from a non-Chinese perspective!

For starters, the food are completely unique in the Yang’s Christmas Day dinner versus my family’s Christmas Eve dinner. At the Yang’s, we had a variety of tofu dishes, salmon, ginger beef, Chinese sausage, sautéed mushroom and veggies, rice, shredded potato, and we drank lots of red wine. The dishes Jason’s parents cooked were amazing and it was a feast I wasn’t accustomed to, but thoroughly enjoyed. I feel guilty for eating most of the salmon, but me eating a lot is perhaps the biggest compliment I can offer to the cook.

At my family’s Christmas Eve dinner, my mom prepared a few Filipino dishes such as kare-kare and Filipino spaghetti (sweet sauce style), and other non-Filipino dishes such as mashed potatoes and roast beef for my white side of the family. Jason’s favorite was the kare-kare… He also loved the roast beef!

Another fascinating part of our Christmas is the random “theme” my mom selects and implement during my family’s Christmas Eve dinner. This year, my mom’s theme was “Christmas ugly sweaters”. As seen on the featured image, even Jason wore the ugly sweater because my family considers him as family now!!! His ugly sweater was the cutest thing – you can play “beer pong” with it and the sweater came with velcro balls!

Jason was quite unfamiliar with this “theme” tradition since his family doesn’t have a Christmas “theme” tradition like ours…. I mean, my family is probably the only one who celebrates Christmas with random Christmas themes (last year’s theme was “purple”). At the Yang’s, their Christmas dinner was more casual and relaxed. Either way, it was a fun experience and totally memorable for both of us.

I think that throughout the holidays I realized something very, very important for my future with Jason. His family mostly speaks Mandarin, and Jason’s dad doesn’t speak English very well. For the most part, Jason also speaks in Mandarin when he’s at home. Throughout the holidays and even during the random nights that I would come over for dinner at Jason’s, the conversation is usually carried out in Mandarin. As a non-Mandarin speaker, during my dinners at the Yang’s, I’m left to sitting awkwardly, staring at the food, and listening to a conversation I cannot even come close to understanding…. the worst part is, I want to be a part of their conversation too, but I just can’t!!!

Since it is 2018, I think one of my main goals this year is to learn how to speak Mandarin. I know that one year is not a lot of time to turn myself into a fluent Mandarin speaker, but in a way, I want to learn how to say even the small words and common phrases. Along with my other goals in 2018 (graduating, getting employed, saving money, growing my Instagram, blogging constantly), learning how to speak Mandarin is definitely one of the most important. Having Jason and Jonas (Jason’s younger brother), helping and teaching me will make the learning process run a lot smoother and easier.

Learning Mandarin is an adjustment I must make in order to show Jason’s parents that I am willing to participate in their culture and tradition. As an outsider coming into their household, I cannot force them to adapt to me… therefore, I must find my way to blend into their family. Just like my Tita Connie said, “if Mark Zuckerberg learned how to speak Mandarin, so can you”. My Tita Connie is absolutely right!!! If Mark Zuckerberg can do it, so can I!

The biggest takeaway from this is that, dating someone who is from a different culture, background and ethnicity as you shouldn’t be a scary or intimidating thing! In fact it should be an enlightening, mesmerizing and fascinating experience. As a couple, you will discover lots from your partner’s family ways of celebrating their culture and traditions, which will help cultivate your own growth and understanding of the world. Through learning each other’s background, will help you understand why your partner is the way he/she is today. In a span of 2 days (December 24th and 25th), I think Jason learned more about me through my family’s ways of celebrating Christmas, as I did with him… and that is a foundation for a solid and lasting relationship.

With love,

Mary Dezleigh Teodosio.

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