#28ChineseMemories Day 15: Ring the Bells, the 3 Little Kwongs are Here!

Image credit to Gualberto107 of
Image credit to Gualberto107 of

Growing up, Christmas was not a big deal in my household: my parents are immigrants and haven’t been highly interested in western religion, but allowed for us kids to attend Sunday School with family friends. So we didn’t have Christmas decorations or exchange gifts; we simply received extra money from our parents and took time to relax.

Our oldest sister wanted us three younger siblings to have some sort of traditional Christmas, though, so we had a small plastic tree in her bedroom and she bought each of us a few gifts. The small tree had some decorations and the three of us eagerly waited for Christmas Day to open presents.

On Christmas Day, we also usually spent time with our extended family as most of our dad’s siblings still lived in Virginia at that point: our parents would have a large banquet of food and invite all our relatives at the restaurant for celebration. My grandfather’s birthday was also around Christmas, so we celebrated his birthday during that time as well.

For a couple Christmases, the three of us (Lisa, me, and Adam) put on a Christmas concert after dinner. We would practice in the large, strangely-shaped closet in our oldest sister’s room, choosing traditional and contemporary Christmas songs to sing.

We still have a home video of our first Christmas concert at our parents’ house: my sister Lisa introduced us with, “Ring the bells: the 3 Little Kwongs are here!” Our parents and relatives laughed at the novelty and we proceeded to sing. I was so shy around our aunt’s video camera and avoided staring at the camera while singing, even when my aunt would say, “Hey, Helene! Look at the camera!” At that point, a couple of our cousins also tried to be a part of the concert, although they were too little to be able to read the words along with us.

It was a fun tradition that we were only able to keep up for two consecutive years; then, things changed with family and the Christmas gatherings at our restaurant faded away.