Yes, Virginia, on more than one occasion Chelsea Chrismas, a university student and yoga instructor, has been asked if her middle name is Mary. At which point she replies that, in actuality, she had a great-grandmother named Mary Chrismas.
Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free PressBarb (left) and daughter Chelsea Chrismas.
“The look on their face is priceless, mostly in disbelief.” Chrismas remembers being kidded about her surname as far back as grade school, but not so much by her fellow students.
“Many more of the teachers made jokes about my last name than my schoolmates,” she says. “An ongoing joke was ‘Oh, looks like Christmas came early this year.’”
Chrismas says she and her parents haven’t done much research on the origin of their festive family name, but she is in possession of an old article from the Minnedosa Tribune about her great-grandfather Walter Elliot Chrismas, a preacher who became known as Father Christmas, after he immigrated to Manitoba from England in 1892.
“We have another article about my grandfather Doug Chrismas who made a joke of riding a turkey to the office every day, to work off the fat,” she says, adding there’s a definite advantage to having the last name Chrismas.
“At our house, every dinner is Chrismas dinner.”