Alex and Anna Gadaiev arrived in Canada on the last plane to leave Ukraine for Canada almost eleven months ago. Their family has started a new life in Southern Manitoba, and Alex and his daughter Maiia shared their thoughts on their first Canadian Orthodox Christmas experience. 

Alex explained there were some adjustments they needed to make.  

"We just had Christmas and New Year. It was our first experience in this country, and it was something special and something different. First of all, the dates were moved. We usually used to celebrate it a little bit later, like on January 6th, but this time, we celebrated it, as all Catholics do, in December before New Year's Eve." 

The family attends the Parish of All Saints of the Ukrainian People at St John's Catholic Church in Morden. The Gadaiev children were part of the Christmas program, and Alex shared what it was like to experience this sacred time in Canada. 

"It was nice, but we still remember where we're from, and that's why we joined the Ukrainian community to organize that performance named Vertep, which represents the Christmas event as it was. It was nice event our kids were involved in that, and I believe that they did well. We will keep all our traditions."  

Maiia expressed mixed feelings about her first Christmas in Canada.  

"We had turkey. It was my first turkey in my life, with potatoes and salad. It's fun, and you have people who you can talk to, they're like family, but your real family, you miss them sometimes. It was a little lonely, because usually we have Christmas with our grandmas and all our families." 

She really enjoyed being part of the program at the church. 

"It was fun. It's not like a play where everyone will know what you're going to say. If you forgot what you should say, you can say something else, and no one will know about it, and like we put on different costumes and it's so fun." 

Alex said being away from home at Christmas is not the most pleasant feeling, but considering what is happening back in Ukraine, he is grateful for the safe and welcoming community here in Manitoba.