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How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday, by Tieu, Linh, our Teen Journalist from Hai Phong, Vietnam
(Tet is the most important national celebration in Vietnam. The full name is Tet Nguyen Dan, which means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’. Our Tet has the same objective as the Western World’s New Year. It is a chance to welcome and celebrate the new year and hope for health, luck, happiness and achievements.) And now on to more of my story:
Hearing my dad’s voice, I opened my lazy eyes and tried to drag my body out of the bed. The day was so special. Instead of seeing clunky clouds in the sky and thinking about how to confront another ordinary day, I could feel the sunshine already and see the bright blue sky.
“Well, Tết is here. Light the flame inside you, Linh !”, I whispered to myself.
After having got through all the household chores and getting ready, we left home and got into the green taxi, which had been waiting for a few minutes. At first, we visited pagodas that we knew were where our ancestors are worshipped. Then, we were in the intimidating crowd at Nghe Temple, trying, along with everyone else, to express our respect for General Le Chan, who had founded Haiphong City with the original name “An Bien”.
I gazed at the map of Nghe Temple and made efforts to find out something interesting to meditate upon, although that was not the first time I visited this remarkable temple. Leaving there I was still excited as the day was just beginning to unfold. A wonderful journey was still waiting for us. “Heading your way !!”, I playfully thought.
It took us about one hour to reach Hai Duong Province. My mother had suggested that we should visit An Phu Temple, or Cao Temple, where Prince Yên Sinh – the first emperor of Trần Dynasty’s elder brother – is worshipped. It was quite hot, different from the usual rainy and wet weather of Tet in Vietnam. Hot, and tiring. The temple is located right on top of the mountain, so we had to climb – to be more exact, walk many steps – to eyewitness the ancient beauty of An Phu Temple.
We took numerous photos, and I followed my parents to explore the structure of Cao Temple. I smelled the ancient, orthodox scent of incense sticks visitors had burnt. Not very sweet- smelling, but it reminded me of the solemn atmosphere at a sacred place.
I memorized some historical events that had happened to Prince Yên Sinh, shaking my head as I realized the irony of what he had been compelled to suffer.
Saying goodbye to An Phu Temple, we left Hai Duong Province for Haiphong City again. But, we stopped at Do Son District to visit Ba De Temple, which is situated near the sea. “Up to the forest, down to the sea”, this is the saying that most depicted our travels. Ba De Temple is associated with a love story between a powerful king and a beautiful and glamorous commoner, who ended up suffering.
After finishing all the holy procedures, we went down to the sea and felt extremely refreshed to take photos, draw on the sand and join in some activities which were kinds of horseplay. I constantly had a bee in my bonnet about the unlucky fate of the beautiful commoner and I could understand how painful women’s lives were and are when they had and have to live amongst male chauvinists.
I’m still lucky, and I think I ought to look up to my life better. And that’s the truth.
PS *: () Mi is the name that my intimates call me at home.
What is a special trip you have taken with friends or family? Share with us. We want to share meaningful experiences that girls have from around the world. Send your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Linh is The Truth for Girls first international young journalist. From Vietnam, she was given a copy of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by her mom, translated into Vietnamese. She loved the story and found my e-mail address at the back of the book. She wrote to me and I answered. That was the beginning of a three year correspondence. As I realized how perceptive Linh is and how versatile her Englih is, I invited her to write articles for other girls around the globe who follow The Truth! We hope you enjoy her article about New Year’s in Vietnam that follows. And remember The Truth is always ready for more young girls from around the world to be journalists. If you are interested write to me, Dr. Barbara at email@example.com .
When I was in the third grade I couldn’t read and I was ashamed. I pretended to read by trying to memorize some pages in the reader. I sat in agony hoping the teacher didn’t call on me. Phonics just made no sense to me. I couldn’t understand what the teacher was trying to teach when she gave us different sounds that different letters made. I loved Miss Johnson, my teacher, but school was scary. Someday everyone would realize that I couldn’t really read past the first grade level!
But Miss Johnson was going to save me! And that is what you will find out now by listening to my video. She saw more than I realized and she knew how to turn a deficit into a talent!
And see, not only was I saved, but I ended up writing two easy to read books for girls and tweens, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and Secrets: You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine…maybe, so that other kids could feel comfortable reading about growing up in a way that didn’t task their reading skills! There is enough in life to task all of us!
Sometimes as parents or teachers or grandmoms we forget the pain and suffering that go with certain milestones in growing up. One of those milestones is Valentine’s Day. In America we celebrate the day with fervor and make a lot out of it.
I remember in elementary school it was very important to me that my mother let me buy packages of Valentine’s for the whole class. Some years they were finished Valentine’s and some years I had to punch them out of the paper that held them. And some were more personal than others with cute sayings. I would have a method to my madness and of course my closest friends got the most pretty and personal cards. I supposed most of the kids had the same method. And there in lay the first potential trauma of that day. Would my best friend Lynne, send me one of her best?
I would only know once the Valentine Box had been opened and some lucky child was picked to be the first person to hand out Valentine’s. That was a treat also. Sometimes I was chosen, but often not. It only took 4 or 5 children to get them all passed out. I was only at peace that day when I opened my Valentine’s and felt remembered.
My video is here to remind all of us grown-ups that children have very deep and powerful feelings:
The Girl had a crush which even made her feelings more dramatic on Valentine’s Day. Not all girls and tweens have crushes. But still be sensitive to the fact that the girls in your life may take Valentine’s Day very seriously. Here are a couple of suggestions to weather the day:
1. Make sure you have remembered the girl(s) in your life in a way that she will feel very special.
2. Be sensitive to her feelings as the day approaches. Maybe share your own memories about the holiday.
3. Ask her if you can help her in any way. Maybe she would love to make cookies or fudge for her special friends and you can have some fun in the kitchen together!
4. Most of all, make sure she knows that she is Your Valentine!
~ © Barbara Becker Holstein .