November 19, 2013

Canada Goose

"Hi dad. I bought a Canada Goose Jacket!"

"How much did you spend?”


"You are crazy! Are you moving to the Arctic to live with Polar Bears?!"

"Well, if I ever become poor and homeless, I will at least be warm."

My parents have always been frugal especially when it comes to gifts. My first Halloween in Canada, my mom made my costume out of garbage bags and cardboard. Since I didn't speak any English, it wasn't like I understood what kids were saying if they were making fun of me. Life wasn't too shabby.

When I was 15, every other kid in gym wore Nike shoes while I had sneakers from Zellers. When I was 16, my birthday present was 6 marbles in a plastic container labelled “Happy Birthday”. My mom took the marbles from my little sister’s toy bin and re-gifted it to me. Last Christmas my mom bought me two boxes of no-name toothpaste labelled "Merry Christmas". My sister Patty got 4 boxes of tampons stacked in a pyramid shape with the top box labelled "Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday". Her birthday is in July.

The summer I was 17 my sister and I traveled to Guilin, China with my Aunt and Uncle. It is the city of Cormorant fishing. Fishermen tie a string around the cormorants' neck and use them to catch fish. The birds catch the fish but can't swallow them, and the fisherman take out the fish. When the fisherman catch enough fish, they let the cormorants eat. This mutual respect and tradition has been kept for thousands of years.

We were parent-less in this beautiful and foreign place. It was every teenager's dream. We ate good food and we toured around rice patties, climbed mountains surrounded by water and sailed on the rivers. Every angle looked exactly like those traditional Chinese ink landscape drawings. We were loud and obnoxious, partied in our hotel room at nights. It was astounding and one of the best trips of my life. At one of the parks there were 3 bridges:

"The left bridge represents family, the middle one represents health, the right one represents wealth" the tour guide explained.

We were instructed to cross only one bridge, and the path we chose would be what we would be blessed with. My uncle had his own business and both him and his wife were kind and gentle people. To me they already have wealth, family and success. They both crossed the health bridge.

My sister went around the bridges. She didn't want to choose as she hated the idea of fate. Even today she believes that fate limit one's capabilities of what they might be able to accomplish. She is the hipster one in the family.

Then it was my turn. I crossed the wealth bridge without thinking twice. I was sick of not getting nice stuff like other kids in school.

Every present-less Birthday and Christmas I first vowed to never talk to my parents again. I hated them for being so god damn cheap and only care about grades. I then vowed that one day I would have a career that provide me with the freedom to allow me buy whatever I want whenever I want.

The day I crossed the wealth bridge was the day I made a mark to pick a career over family. Flash forward to today, what good is a person's heart who cut off the people that love them unconditionally? Without my parents I wouldn't even be where I am today. And cutting people who love you off to gain wealth and success, is the wealth and success even worth anything?

I permanently moved to Ottawa solely for my career after graduation. I made a conscious decision to move to a city where I knew no one, but where I managed to purchase a home, a luxury car, and a collection of designer bags in my mid 20's all on my own while my parents live on the other side of the country. My bridge blessing did came true.

So there I was. Standing in front of my bedroom mirror with my Canada Goose jacket. I ran my fingers through the coyote fur trim. I've never even physically encountered a coyote, and here I am wearing one. I starred at the black circles under my eyes then stared at my tired face. I was exhausted from work. I noticed how much older I looked compared to my high school self.

I may not have crossed that family bridge, but I'm glad I didn't burn that bridge down.


  1. I don't think there is one fate... it's great to have money but you are right... without family you really don't have much :-)

  2. You really write so beautifully, and I can understand you =) As much as I feel material things are important, they are not more important than my crazy, wacky, I'm-going-insane family, even if, like you, we've had those bad moments. And it's a great jacket, my dad would probably say the same thing, haha!

    - Che

  3. Your parents sound like my husbands. His parents were extremely religious and would not cerebrate Christmas because it was a pagan holiday. When we first got married my husband did not know how to act for Christmas or what he was supposed to do. Poor husband.

  4. What an amazing story hun, as much as our families might drive us crazy we only have one so I suppose you make the most of them lol. Love your jacket though and honestly if you can afford to spoil yourself...then why not :)


  5. Great jacket! What style did you end up with? I wore my Goose out for the first time last weekend and loved it!

  6. This is beautiful. I can be part of your Ottawa family if you want ;) xoxo

  7. 16 for the marbles? Not 6? Well, they did teach you to be careful with money. I learned that leasson too...but didn't get too much pressure about grades. You've done an amazing job getting out into the world and taking care of yourself. Most people your age are living in their parent's basement (well, maybe not MOST, but a lot). Making your mark and not losing your've got a lot to be proud of.

  8. This is a really touching story, Julie. And I can kind of relate to your stories of growing up: My parents weren't really into gift-giving either. Most holidays and birthdays, I'd get red envelopes that promptly went into savings accounts. (God forbid I actually spend my birthday money!) It's nice to have savings when you're older, but when you're a kid you just want candy or toys or the same kind of clothes other kids have.

    It sounds like you have a good relationship with your parents though, as far away as you are. Are you going home for Christmas?

  9. Chic jacket! What a beautiful post! You can count on me if there is anything you need! ;)

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  10. I can totally relate to you. My mom is a ceramicist. She is an excellent artist, but every time there was an occasion I would get a vase as a gift - whether it was my birthday, Christmas or whatever. It's like a 10 year old who wants nothing else but vases… LOL Obviously, I have no idea which ones of the hundreds of vases in my mom's house are supposed to be mine and I will never find out. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

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  12. What a great post! And glad you didn't burn the family bridge down. And congrats on your achievements and will let you in a little do not look that old :O Oh yeah my and my sister got made fun of for wearing plastic sneakers form Woolworths. No Nikes for us.

    Allie of ALLIE NYC

  13. Love your writing so much, yeah sometimes live separately from parents might be better, adjust our own life and be free to buy anything we want to :) i felt the same !!!

  14. Great post! I was like brought to a different world from the past. I can totally relate. Those things that we have now are the evidence of hard work and perseverance, our dreams when we were young and that freedom we were wishing for. Life is short, let's enjoy what the world has to give and be thankful for what we have blessed with. God bless! xo

  15. It's a great post. I can relate (growing up in Taiwan, strict parents, you probably know the rest). Now I'm in LA pursing what I want, and along the way, I met the most amazing person. But w/o my family, I really wouldn't be who I am today. Anway, that jacket looks fantastic on you!

  16. Oooh, this was such a great post. I know how much it sucks to have cheap parents...mine are the same. It may have rubbed off on me a bit, but I hope to one day do better. Working on it!
    You're definitely an inspiration to me though. Way to work hard and get what you want.
    Although it's true, family is always there for you, no matter what.

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  17. I don't know if I believe in fate. If I were standing there in front of 3 bridges, I would have probably done what your sister did.

  18. I never got any gifts from my parants but I love them. Or cool clothes.... it doesn't matter to me. I always felt loved. That's the most important thing. Glad you didn't burn down the family bridge. The jacket looks amazing btw <3

    xx Mira

  19. This is an inspiration. You knew what you wanted and went full throttle to get it. Good for you chick!

  20. I loved your line about being poor and homeless but warm, very cute. How amazing is this jacket! Totally worth it, it will last you for decades. It looks so cozy. It was really great hearing your opinion on my last post.

  21. Gorgeous coat, love it :) !

  22. It was a nice touching post and so very true. I always complain about helping my brothers and parents financially but I am just all talked and help them I can. Thank you so much for the sweet thoughts and visit in my blog.


  23. Most touching post I've read, considering you've chosen to focus on your career and wealth.<3 <3 <3