Of course it was fun - it’s always fun. It’s even more fun when watching an adult experience Christmas for the first time.
Ái Nhân has been in America since August and has grown accustomed to American ways - but Christmas, with all its variables, was new. After the stress of semester-ending exams and after turning in the requisite research papers, she took a few mornings to sleep in, recover, and refresh. Then it was off to shop with Cindy, make cookies, listen to Christmas music, and watch the requisite Christmas movies - you know the ones: “Its a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, and “A Christmas Story.” She’d already seen “Home Alone.”
She jumped in with both feet, which is her style of meeting life. With Cindy’s family all together, we went to the Christmas Eve service - packed with visiting grandkids and absent the grandparents who traveled.
Ái Nhân has never been afraid of a microphone. She and her freshman classmates threw a Christmas party in 2005. Parties mean karaoke in Việt Nam and the microphone was passed around the room. Six years later, when the chance came to sing with the music team at church, she was ready - candle light and all. I marveled that she sang the old Christmas carols with the same flawless gusto as someone who had sung them all her life.
(As always, be sure to click on each photo to see a larger version of it.)
Ái Nhân is not a Christian, yet that makes no difference to the people of St. Peter & St. Paul Episcopal Church. She is part of the family and they have embraced her as such. Hers is an inquiring mind that asks questions about the ceremonies of Christianity. Because a considerable number of people in her home city of Huế are Catholic, she has seen people make the sign of the cross. She has asked questions about the meaning of some of the actions of the priest during Communion - and recognizes that there is something special about the number three. And she patiently sits in her seat while Cindy and I go forward to receive the bread and wine.
Christmas is also a time for sharing gifts, and guess who played “Santa’s Helper” by passing out the presents from under the tree? She was, after all, the youngest.
Grandma unloaded her Christmas stocking and enjoyed the new “closet” Ái Nhân made for her Barbie doll clothes. The Vietnamese are great gift-givers and are not as enamored as we with giving expensive gifts. Gift from the heart are important to them.
We did get a chuckle when one of the blouses Ái Nhân received from Cindy’s brother Don was discovered to have been made in Việt Nam. What a small world we live in.
Christmas is also food. Cindy prepared the usual table-groaning feast - with Ái Nhân’s help of course. Family together - from the matriarch to the newest member.
Of course, some were missed - certainly Trang, Tuan, and Thanh were part of our Merry Christmas, if only in our thoughts.
My life continues to be so blessed. I love my family, whether by blood, the one I married into, or my newly acquired family of Vietnamese.
I am blessed indeed.