In an interview by Thoi Bao Radio with Mrs. Le Khac Ngoc Quynh

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Summary of Audio Interview

In an interview by Thoi Bao Radio with Mrs. Le Khac Ngoc Quynh (Teacher of Vietnamese Language at Tran Chung Vuong High School in Saigon) about her and her family’s 25th Christmas Holiday celebration including Tet in Toronto, Canada.

It is a tradition in Mrs. Le’s family to celebrate the Christmas Holidays, even when they were in Vietnam. Her family will continue to follow this tradition for years to come. Christmas time is very happy time because everyone is gathered in Toronto and a niece from Hawaii would also be here to celebrate. There are 7 children and 10 grandchildren all together. There is also two special birthdays in December to celebrate, one birthday is her husband’s on December 29 and the other birthday is her only daughter’s on December 23. This year is also a very special celebration because it is her husband’s her’s 55th wedding anniversary. She enjoy preparing gifts for our grand children, the oldest being 17 and youngest 2 years old. Every holiday, she buys red outfits for all family members to wear for the special celebration.

The festive holiday begins on December 24 in the afternoon. Every year, the family takes a photo to remember how they spend each year together and often compared how the children grew up and how family members change over the years. After the family photo, they exchange gifts with each other. The gifts were simple but the good memories were better to keep. In Vietnam, the family also had similar Christmas Holiday celebrations although they were Buddhist, the children knew about Santa Clause, how Jesus Christ was born, and other religious details.

There is a particular memory about a gift that Mrs. Le shared in a short story book she wrote published in Canada. It was after 1975 and her oldest son Ky Anh really liked to play ping pong as he had won several awards from the city. He wished and was passionate about having the “butterfly ping pong paddle” that cost over $100 but he never thought that he would ever have it as her wage was $75 a month. Somehow she saved up and managed to buy the paddle and when he opened his gift, he was so touched that he was crying. After exchanging gifts, they have a pot luck dinner. Family members bring new dishes that they recently learned to make to share. Mrs. Le’s family traditionally have Bun Bo Hue is the main dish on Christmas as it is just the right taste for the season. One grandson had a presentation at his school on Bun Bo Hue because he loved it so much. There were traditional foods such as pork hash wrapped in banana leaf, spring rolls, goi cuon with lots of vegetable as the children like to wrap it themselves and a mango salad dish, which is my specialty to make.

The older members love to drink tea and the younger ones soda and the adults drink beer. In the end, then there is aromatic lotus seeds dessert from Hue which was prepared especially and sent from Vietnam. The family has a show every year for entertainment. Some of them sing and others play the piano. There was even a fashion show put on for fun. Family members can’t wait to see each other’s shows they create and prepare themselves each year.

Children can stay up late to hang out and socialize with each other and the past was often mentioned for the children to reflect on such as eating only banh tai heo when our family was back in Vietnam and we were still happy and how we listened to the Christmas carols from Facico Church and that we would not forget those sweet memories. After midnight, we would go to rest. There were Christmas Holidays in Vietnam when our family lived near Duc Ba Church and we would look forward to Tet Holidays as well. The family follows the Vietnamese tradition and prepares lucky red pocket money for visitors. The younger ones come over and we give out red lucky pocket money to those we get Vietnamese greetings from as we want to motivate them to keep learning our native language. There is extra red lucky pocket money for extraordinary greetings prepared. On Tet Lunar New Year eve, we make offerings to our ancestors so the young ones could learn and follow that tradition. We hope they would think about the cultures and traditions of Vietnam, family members and the ancestors during Tet.

She also receives greeting cards and email messages during the holidays from students and reminisced about the past when she used to teach. To conclude the interview, Mrs. Le sends out a holiday greeting to having pleasant weather and that it be “white Christmas”. She hopes for peace in Canada and a stable life and happy times everyone. She lastly mentions that Canada is a second home to her and she is blessed to be here as it is a free country and had many good and warm memories and also think of her homeland. She lastly sends her warmest greetings for a Happy Christmas Holiday with much happiness to everyone.