02/01 2022

“Christmas is a time to count your blessings”

After five years in Vietnam, the most memorable Christmas was celebrated in 2020. It was the first holiday my now-fiancé and I celebrated after moving in together. We decorated the tree together, and we created our own “tree topper” using a golden star and a “nón lá”. The halls decked and the stockings hung with care made our house feel more like home.

I have celebrated Christmas in Vietnam in a variety of ways. But each time, I have been moving closer and closer to the more “Western” traditions. My first Christmas tree in Vietnam was a small, somewhat bare tree I dubbed “Charlie Brown” (Charlie Brown tree talks about the ugly pine tree which has a small shape, bare leaves, thin branches). I have made calculated efforts to keep old traditions alive (e.g. Christmas movie marathons) and create new traditions from scratch (e.g. pho on Christmas morning). So, it is not a question of how traditions are different from back home, but rather how those traditions have been amended to suit my new home.

While I would love to say that what Christmas means to me is “peace on Earth” and “good will towards men,” that would be disingenuous. Truth be told, Christmas means three things: family, pecan pie, and Die Hard.

The feelings do not differ that much, surprisingly. What is surprising is how few students know that Christmas is a religious holiday – not a cultural holiday. All the same, it is fun to walk around the school wearing my Santa hat while the students give me a “thumbs up”.

I must say that I am heinously envious of the Christmas decorations at IEDG. The lights, the garlands, and the trees are all a nice little reminder of the holiday season.

My message: the past couple of years has been difficult for everyone. Some fell ill. Some struggled economically. Too many left too early. So, count your blessings. Remind your loved ones that you do, in fact, love them.

Mr. Phillip J. Burg

IELTS Teacher in WASS
Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Campus

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