"HOLIDAY-ISH" | Are you HAPPY during the Holidays? Author Lynh Vee shares her experiences and thoughts about the Holiday season.
Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be my favorite holiday of the year. However, the more I grew up – the more I was repulsed by the idea of it. The meaning behind these holidays and the traditions behind it has great significant meaning. However, I feel like society is trying to live up to that dream. Since COVID started, it made me realize a lot of things about this time - I got to see everything for its face value and what we are really grateful for.
As a first generation immigrant, my household had no idea what Thanksgiving was all about and as a Buddhist, we did not celebrate Christmas. One of our first Thanksgiving growing up, I can remember my mom buying a family pack of Popeyes Chicken and a roasted chicken found at Safeway. I didn’t realize Thanksgiving had more on the menu besides what Popeye had offered until later in life when my best friend introduced me to deviled eggs. Thinking back, for someone who just came to the United States and not knowing about Thanksgiving in general my mom did a pretty good job trying to fit in and celebrate the American holiday. There was a time in junior high, where my mom bought a turkey and tried to bake it in the oven – let’s just say it ended with the fire department knocking at our door. Our family isn’t big, sometimes we were invited to other people’s Thanksgiving and some times we were just at home eating our own Vietnamese/Laotian cooked dinners as our Thanksgiving. Fast forwarding to Christmas and Winter Holiday break, it was the best time ever, as far as I can remember with my childhood – we ended up going to Canada to spend some time with my cousins in Montreal and Toronto. I love being able to sleep in and do whatever a kid can do on their holiday breaks. It wasn’t until I got back from the winter holiday break, where I didn’t have the most fun. As we are starting a new year in school and children are finally settling down after catching up on what felt like decades since we last saw each other. Our teacher would then ask, “ How was your break and what did you get for Christmas?” At this time, a few raised their hands and began to share what they received from Santa and what they did over the break. Some never said a thing and seemed beside themselves. One student distinctly said something along the lines, “I didn’t do much, but I had fun”
You know the holiday season begins when – Starbucks brings back pumpkin spice latte, businesses having awesome deals while browsing around the shops we hear them playing Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”, surrounding myself with beautiful decorations and twinkle lights. As a person who has a decade or more experience in retail, Black Friday could be the absolute worst – my strongest memory was when I worked at Aeropostale, I witnessed two grannies fighting over a sweater even though the same exact one was right in front of their faces. I’ve seen plenty of people waiting in line at Best Buy waiting for the hottest new deals or parents rolling under the gates as it’s opening up just so they can get into the mall as fast as they can. While some of the madness is good for the business. It is just sad to see people rather spend their Friday or even better part of their Thanksgiving waiting in line for things that are going to depreciate in a matter of seconds after walking out the front door. Come holiday time, patrons do make the best of it but others, I can see the look on their face – desperately fighting for the sales because without it they can’t afford it. While working in retail, I also did my fair share in financial institutions. I love the fact we got major holidays off and get off work before it gets too dark outside but what sucks is seeing individual situations coming through. I’ve seen customers come in and over drew their accounts so they can get that money to buy their kids Christmas gifts. I’ve seen parents crying because their personal loans got denied and they can’t fund their Thanksgiving or Christmas. I hated seeing how some people would compromise their bills just so they have enough for the holiday or to make themselves look good to impress their family and friends when the holidays events came up. Not to mention opening up to different anxiety and stress just to create perfection to seek acceptance from the people that meant the most to them. I now know why growing up some kids didn’t speak up about their winter breaks. Their parents struggled putting food on the table or even keeping a roof over their head. Some kids didn’t have family to spend their time with and spent most of their breaks alone.
After winter holiday breaks, what stuck out to me the most was this kid who said “I didn’t do much, but I had fun.” As an adult and if I had a kid, I think I’d tear a little if I heard that. Made me feel like this child didn’t have a lot but they were grateful for what they had during that time. Sometimes in the midst of growing up to ensure we had everything possible and to give everything to our kids we forget what we are truly grateful for.
I wanted to write this before Christmas came around and before you went on your last minute Christmas shopping. We are all coming out or still even struggling from the effects of COVID. It's okay if the kids don't have the fanciest things or the best meal isn’t on the table at this time. It’s okay that we have to say no to certain members of the family to save peace for ourselves. I don’t remember what toys or gifts I received during Christmas growing up. I don’t even think I received any presents around the holidays. I do remember spending it with my cousins all packed downstairs sleeping together while the parents are karaoking upstairs. I remember unintentionally creating traditions with my best friend. I also remember spending my holiday just engorging on all types of food. Forgive yourself if you can’t make enough to spend for your friends and family. We’ll still love you regardless. I hope this brings less stress and solace in your life so you can breathe and know you aren’t alone. Of course, if you do go shopping and spend that money – ensure that it’s going to small businesses. Remember that this is just temporary, hopefully things turn around and you can spend endless money on the people you love.
Holidays only show a moment of happiness, but it's how you make your entire year and how that entire year affects people you love. You’ll then see you aren’t alone. Where you lack, your community will help pick you up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Hi, I’m Lynh. First Generation Immigrant. I am Vietnamese/Laotian American. Born in Washington D.C. Mostly raised in Fort Smith, AR. Currently residing in North West Arkansas. I have a beautiful 11 month old Corgi Mix "furbaby" named Suki. Fun fact, English is not my first language. I’m a polyglot; I also speak Vietnamese, Laotian, Spanish, and a little bit of French. I have a traveler’s heart; there’s not a place in the world I wouldn’t mind seeing. I am also a big foodie so there isn’t a food in the world I wouldn’t mind trying. I need ALL the food recommendations! I believe in a strong sense of community. I believe we are stronger together, than as individuals. When we support one another. Shout-out to NWA Girl Gang who has opened their arms out wide for me. I love to see and empower more strong and beautiful heroines in this world!
FOLLOW Lynh on Instagram HERE.