Ahhh, Christmas. Sparkling trees and
gay little presents. Frosty cheeks and frosted fruitcake. Or maybe a barbecue
and a bottle of beer.
to the cracked nuts, no matter how each family celebrates
it, that’s Christmas. For if nothing else, this seasonal celebration stands as
a string of traditions and memories, each a single bead starting with the first
Christmas we remember.
But for the hundreds of young
dishwashers, “sales associates”, bartenders, lifties, chambermaids, servers,
snow crews and cab drivers who keep Whistler running throughout the season,
what happens when you’re spending Christmas — maybe your first — away from
TURKEY AND MATSUTAKE GOHAN
Pauline Wiebe can’t stand the thought
of international students sitting alone in their dorm rooms, far from home at
So every Christmas day for the past
dozen years, she and hubby Ray have shuffled the furniture in their cozy home
in White Gold to host a traditional Canadian turkey dinner for Japanese
students and friends. It means their family of four plus their three home-stay
students instantly triples.
“I try to keep it to about 20. But
visiting Japanese students don’t experience this, and some of them are now
staying for more than a year, so it’s growing,” says Pauline.
The food, centred around roast turkey
and ham with all the veggies and trimmings, is presented on a beautifully
decorated table, with the chairs set round the room. Everyone helps themselves
after all standing in a circle, holding hands and singing grace.
So what’s the one-must have Christmas
dish for Pauline? Her dad’s stuffing — he was the traditional turkey cooker in
her family. This means patiently cooking onions and celery until they’re
translucent, adding apple, pork sausage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, of
course, and tons of cubed whole wheat bread. (“Everybody loves stuffing and
it’s a really good way to feed big hungry guys.”) The other must-have: really
good pumpkin pie.
The only Japanese touch Pauline adds
— pine mushroom
rice, made with wild pine mushrooms she picks herself. And friend Fumie Kashino
brings her to-die-for dinner buns.
“Everyone loves it — they all have a really
good time,” she says. “And I love it, too. Every year I say it’s the last, but
it keep’s me going.”