In third grade, I was attending a small school in rural Saskatchewan. I had a great teacher, and I liked my classmates, but sometimes I was misunderstood.
One day in early December, our teacher asked us to talk about things that we like do around Christmas time. My classmates began talking about caroling, cups of hot chocolate, tobogganing, warm fires…
I listened to these things, then slowly raised my hand and said “I like to go swimming at the beach.” I was not being cheeky. Just two years previous, my family had spent the most memorable Christmas of our lives on the beach in Karachi, when PIA bumped us from our ongoing flights. We had spent our day swimming, riding a camel, and watching baby sea turtles make their way into the ocean. At that time in my life, going to the beach was one of the most Christmas-ey activities I could think of.
I was mortified when my teacher responded: “Yeah, that’s not something we can do at Christmas.”
“But I did,” I protested. “We had Christmas on the beach in Pakistan!”
“But we’re talking about things that people normally do at Christmas.”
Embarrassed, I sank into my seat and said no more. These people would never understand.