Friday, December 18, 2009


I am so glad my husband agreed that we would not be travelling to Detroit to visit his family and since I already made two trips to New York in April and May, we will be staying home for Christmas this year.

Being non-Christian family, growing up in Viet Nam I did not celebrate Christmas and our home was not decorated with Christmas tree or anything associated with the holiday. We talked about Santa Claus "Ong Gia Noel" but my parents did not feel it was necessary to give us presents (pretending to be from Santa) as it was not part of our tradition.
For a few years after we came to America, still being non-Christian yet trying to adapt to the new culture, I attempted to celebrate Christmas by decorating the tiny dining area in our apartment (one bedroom, one bath, kitchen and the living room was set up as another bedroom) by taping gold and silver, red and green garlands on the wall and displayed a few Christmas cards from relatives and friends. I think we were tought by our English class teachers about sending Christmas cards or perhaps after we have gotten a few from other people and thought it would be appropriate to reciprocate. My siblings continued Christmas decorations after I moved out of the apartment.
My introductory of traditional Christmas celebration was in 1988 with my husband-to-be and his family starting with Christmas Eve dinner. My husband was the World Famous "Pierogies" Chef as well as making a few apple pies. After dinner, the grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, all 20 adults, cramped into the living room to watch 13 nieces and nephews opened their presents. This had been the part I disliked, watching the kids tore up the wrapping paper, barely looked at what they got, moved on to the next, stuffed the money into their pockets, then mechanically thanked everyone for the presents, yet already forgotten who gave which items.
Midnight Mass has always been my favorite and what I really looked forward to during Christmas season. We usually tried to get to church early to get good seats (** heh heh **) to listen to the choir. The next day, a Christmas brunch would be hosted at someone's house and we would celebrate my husband's birthday since he was born on December 25th, a Christmas baby!
Since 1988 and after we got married in 1989, no matter how severe the weather was (at time dangerous to be driving), we always HAD to be in Detroit. There were so many close calls during those 3 hours driving in the snow, ice and treacherous condition from Grand Haven. It was expected, it was family tradition at Christmas, everyone was supposed to be there and there was no negotiation!
In 1994, we stayed in St. Louis for Christmas. We closed on the house but the family asked if we would let them move after Christmas since the house they were building was not ready. We continued to live in the apartment, and my husband new position with the company was overwhelming as he would come home everyday tired and worn out. We had a little Christmas tree on the coffee table with a few ornaments we bought since all the ornaments and decorations from our home in Michigan were in storage. It was not a very jolly Christmas, especially for my husband, for the first time not being with his whole family. For the next 9 years, we resumed the tradition of spending Christmas (for me, it has become more like an obligation) driving, this time 8 hours, from St. Louis to Detroit. 2005 was a turbulent year in our marriage, and the spirit of Christmas was not present in our hearts and our home. In 2006, with both of his parents passed away, my husband finally recognized that we must create our own Christmas tradition (it was the same discussion I started a few years after we got married!). We had our REAL Christmas, with quiet dinner on Christmas Eve, just my husband and I, in our own home, opening presents, attending midnight Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, Christmas brunch the next day, celebrating my husband birthday with a cake and a nice Christmas dinner, just the two of us! It was all I wanted for Christmas, a present I had asked since 1990!
We spent a glorious Christmas in New York City in 2007, with an overnight stay at the Waldorf Astoria, walked to Rockefeller Center, then to Radio City to see the Christmas Spectacular show, and a nice dinner at Oscar's. We attended Christmas Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Last Christmas (2008) we planned to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday with his family in Detroit but the snow storm prevented the trip as part of I-95 around Indiana/Michigan was closed.

This weekend, my husband and I are planning when to make pierogies and apple pies, just for the two of us. Our home looks so nice with all the decorations. Like a little "big" kid, my husband kept checking for how many presents are under the Christmas tree. CMP kept asking me how big of the cake I would get for his birthday. I look forward to a few days of quiet, relaxing moments that are filled with Christmas spirit of love and peace, with my husband, just the two of us, and that is all I wanted for Christmas.

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