Whenever I feel gloomy with the state of my life, I think about the special moments spent with my family and friends. For me, the beauty of important occasions like Christmas is not about the 25th of December itself, but lies on the moments before that. It can be the excitement of going Christmas shopping with my parents, the eagerness when I start putting the ornaments on the Christmas tree, the impatience that lingers when I wait to open the presents, or the warm feelings when my relatives gather for the holiday… Those moments are memorable because they bind us together, temporarily shifting our problems away and become a way for me to express love with my family.
Growing up, I rarely said “I love you” to my parents. Maybe because in my culture, love is a big word. Although it means yêu in Vietnamese, I feel like sometimes love is not fully translated to sufficiently express yêu – the special feelings that you have for your significant others. Rather, it is more like quý or thương, which are also understood as love, but more often said to friends than to your partners or parents. Therefore, in many Vietnamese households I know, saying Con yêu bố mẹ (I love you to my parents), carries a lot of weight and is usually used in more serious and specific contexts. Besides my culture, I am also not a person who explicitly shows much affection to my parents. I am THAT person who feels more comfortable expressing my love and care through actions than actually confronting them and saying the words. That’s why when occasions like Christmas come up, I try to show my affection a bit more by spending quality time with my loved ones, helping them with chores or buying them presents, just to see them happy.
It seems to me that love is everywhere. Even though it is not usually said, dignified or newsworthy, it is always there with the people you love.
Despite all that, sometimes I do wish I could hug my parents and say those loving words that they have been waiting to hear more. Especially for those who are far from home this Christmas, what could be a better present than being affectionate to your loved ones and saying what you feel from your heart?
Author: Quynh Trang Le
Editor: Phoebe Elliott
Visuals by: Lam Ngoc Do