A Christmas Story – from a different point of view



It is Christmas eve afternoon as I sit in my kitchen putting together the bits and pieces of my family traditions. The Swedish meatballs, homemade rye bread, hot rice pudding and cranberry sauce are almost ready. My children will gather in the morning and we will share stories, eat, give gifts and sit around a decorated tree. The fire will be roaring and laughter will be heard. This was a tradition I enjoyed as a child (minus the fire) and worked to establish with my children as they grew up.

I think about this holiday now from a different point of view. My classroom over the last few years has been one with students who live in high poverty and many students from war torn countries. Their traditions are different and they are working to meld their family histories with one American holiday. The Christmas that include so many gifts-the Christmas of getting and giving.

As students return to school the conversation is so often about what did you get.  I have always wondered what goes through the minds of my Hmong students, or my students from Samolia during these conversations in early January. What is happening in those homes during this winter break?

Yesterday a local Hmong writer, Kao Kalia Yang,  shared that story. The story of what happened in her home at Christmas. Take a moment to read and reflect about this Christmas. It is a special story posted in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune – December 23, 2013


Kao Kalia Yang is author of  “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir,” published by Coffee House Press. I have worked with her as a visiting author in the Minneapolis Public School classrooms. She is a delight to work with and to know.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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5 Responses to A Christmas Story – from a different point of view

  1. I’ll read the piece in just a moment. I have to stop salivating over the homemade rye bread!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Joanne.

  2. Joanne Toft says:

    Added to the Rye bread was homemade cinnamon rolls – the house was heavenly last night as it was all baking. Now I have to keep them hidden or it will all be gone before friends arrive tomorrow. 🙂

  3. djtsmith says:

    Wow, that was an awesome story. Loved it.

  4. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. A beautiful reminder about the meaning of Christmas.

  5. Ramona says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. It brings back memories of my oldest sister’s work with Hmong refugees in Tennessee. I loved reading this at the end of the story – “She is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University…”

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