My first spirit of Christmas away from home

Lam The Nguyen reminisces about Christmas in Vietnam and his first Christmas in America.
My first spirit of Christmas away from home

The first time my family celebrated Christmas away from home was in America. It was my first exposure to Christmas in the secular world. I remember my family is very poor. We do not have a TV or radio; therefore, I never know the true spirit of Christmas. My family did not have Christmas lights, tree, decorations, or any Christmas items to raise up our spirits.

In my village in Vietnam, 90 percent of the people are Catholic so we celebrate Christmas in a religious aspect. I remember every year when Christmas comes many people from villages near and far gather at my church to see the big performance of skits, dances, songs, decorations of lights and caves, and seeing someone dress in a Santa Clause suit. The only Christmas attraction happened on the streets and churches that celebrate Christmas. Only the rich families can afford to celebrate Christmas in their homes. Most people celebrate Christmas together in public churches. I remember going out to the public churches and streets with my family, friends, and relatives to see beautiful decorations of Christmas lights, caves, the nativity scene, and much more. Christmas for me in Vietnam was short--it was like a walk in the park or zoo. Everyone gathered together to take pictures with the scene of the cave where Jesus was born. We take a lot of pictures. I never notice then that my Christmas gift was getting to eat whatever I wanted. I prefer ice cream and chocolate candy as a special Christmas present.

I remember Christmas of 1995 in Tacoma, Washington. It was the first time my family celebrated Christmas in America and the tradition continues on. Having our Christmas lights and tree up, we watch Christmas movies such as The Santa Clause, Home Alone 1,2,3, A Christmas Story and much more. I love to listen to Christmas songs on the radio. After the Christmas Eve Mass my family has a potluck at home, then open Christmas presents. Iit has become a Christmas tradition in my family ever since.