A Timmins family is looking to make Christmas a part of their family tradition.
Nikitha Balasubramanya and Viknesh Venkatesan, who are from India, have a three-year-old son Vivaan. After they moved to Timmins last year, they decided they wanted to show their son what Christmas is about.
“We’re just trying to celebrate it the way Canadians do it,” Balasubramanya said.
Before Venkatesan and Balasubramanya had a son, they didn't celebrate Christmas in a traditional way. This year, the holidays will be more family-oriented for them.
“When we were students and when we were married, for the holidays, we would just go to different places and enjoy,” Balasubramanya said. "Maybe I can't make this huge family gathering, it's just the three of us, but we're going to make it a large family gathering for him (Vivaan)."
Last week, Balasubramanya posted in a local Facebook group asking how to celebrate Christmas. Since then, she has received hundreds of suggestions.
“I was so thrilled and super happy. I didn’t expect so many responses and I’m going to follow most of the tips,” she said. “Most of them have similar replies, so I’m going to take all the interesting ones and start implementing them for us.”
The family has already bought and decorated a Christmas tree. On the Christmas Eve, they will wear matching pajamas and will open presents in the morning. They will also hang stockings and bake gingerbread cookies.
For Balasubramanya and Venkatesan, it is a new experience as well.
The family’s religion is Hinduism. Their house has a dedicated space for worship called pooja room that has various idols, and there's also an image of Lord Ganesha hung in their living room. Back in India, they also celebrated holidays like Diwali, Pongal and Holi.
“We’re planning to not let go of our tradition and at the same time get to know this new tradition,” Balasubramanya said. “We’re going to make the best use of both worlds.”
Celebrating Christmas for them is also a way to ensure when Vivaan starts attending school, he doesn’t feel excluded from his peers.
“I’m sure when they start school, they’re going to talk about what gifts they got on Christmas. I don’t want him to be left behind. I want him to share that experience with his friends,” Balasubramanya said.
Venkatesan and Balasubramanya met at Concordia University where they both were getting a master’s degree in electrical engineering. They moved to Timmins from Toronto after Venkatesan got a job from the Ontario Power Generation.
The family considers Canada their home now.
“We’re planning to live here, I love the job here,” Venkatesan said about living in Timmins. “We would like Vivaan to grow up here, too. The country has given a good future for me and I’m hoping Vivaan enjoys staying here.”