It was rainy and cold in Portland, Oregon last Christmas. I hesitated to go far on my new journey.
I put on a heavy coat before going out for a walk. The coat kept my body warm, but still it seemed to have a cold inside my heart. I have not been with my family at Christmas since I entered my religious order thirteen years ago. However, it had been the first time I spent Christmas time in a place, which is a half world away from Vietnam, my home country.
It is usually warm and dry in my country during Christmas time, so I was excited at my first seeing snow. However, it became boring after a few weeks. I did not like the view of trees without leaves and no bird, no squirrel around. It gave me a sense of death.
Walking along the street, I was looking for something but I did not know exactly what it was. Then, when I heard a Christmas carol played from somewhere, I recognized that I was looking for the atmosphere of Christmas that I was used to having in my hometown. I longed to hear Christmas carols unceasingly played and to see people with joyful faces decorating Christmas lights from streets to streets. There were just cold breezes companying with me in this new place.
I went home where I stayed with some other Vietnamese sisters who came to the United States ten years ago. I found on my bed a message in a beautiful Christmas card “We knew that you are missing your family and Christmas atmosphere in Vietnam just as happened to us before. Be rejoiced. Christmas is the time for hope and new starts.” It took off the heaviness, causing by my homesickness, within my heart. I started thinking about other people facing the same situation as I was at that time. Then, I recognized that I could not go far in my new journey as long as I still looked back over my shoulders. I opened the window and my room filled with fresh air quickly. “Merry Christmas to America” I whispered.