I can remember back to when I was seven. Vietnamese New Year was the high point of the year for me.
In the morning my family and I would scramble around the house, like crazy chickens in a coop, rushing to get ready. My mom would be dressing my four year old sister while my dad would slack around, waiting until the last minute to hop into the shower.
After receiving multiple phone calls from my grandmother, who would be hassling us for being at home while we were supposed to be present at her house, we would finally leave. As I entered my grandmother’s house, every inhale I took would bring in aromas of catered food: egg rolls, fried rice, and spring rolls. The only thing I could think of were the money-filled red envelopes; I could hardly wait for them to be placed into my hands. The question of how much money I would get constantly replayed in my head repeatedly like a broken record. After what seemed like a million photographs being taken, it was finally time. I would line up behind my cousins, recite a New Years wish to my aunts and uncles, and just like that, a red envelope would land in my hands. Right after I received all the envelopes, I would excitedly scurry off to the couch, sit down, and count my money.
That’s how it was when I was little. I loved Vietnamese New Year because of what I got out of it. It has only been seven years since then, but over that little amount of time a lot has changed.
As the years passed by, my anticipation for New Years to come has faded away. I began dreading the day of the red envelopes. I would have to practice the things I would say, things like “this New Year I wish you health and prosperity” or “this New Year I wish you wealth and happiness.” Because my life began to evolve around an Americanized community, I began to hate speaking Vietnamese; wearing the itchy traditional dresses that I usually wore was not something I enjoyed either. By the time I was twelve, everything just seemed worthless.
It wasn’t until this New Year that I started realizing why it was worth while to celebrate this holiday. As I sat down and listened to my uncle give his annual New Year speech to the whole family, I noticed how happy my grandma was to see all of her sons, daughters, and grandchildren gathered around. Her face was still, but I could tell that on the inside she was glowing with joy. That was the moment that I realized something. I realized that sometimes, you have to stop thinking about yourself and think about how others feel for a change. Sometimes, doing something you don’t enjoy is worth while because it brings happiness to others. I knew it was time for me to put aside my childish thoughts. That New Year, was the event that, as my friends would say, “Tiffany had and epiphany.”